4 Reasons Why Military Drones Will Be Even More Dangerous in the Future
As the people of the world go about their daily lives, there is a new danger lurking in the background and become more dangerous as time passes. And most of us are unaware of its presence.
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I am talking about the use of military drones that are armed with laser-guided missiles¹. And with each passing day, they are becoming more lethal — and the end is nowhere in sight.
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Ironically, what’s making these drones more dangerous are the incentives they provide to world leaders for using them. And thus far, there have not been many downsides for them in terms of the political cost.
Covert Means of Establishing Permanent War
Perhaps the most seductive way for world leaders to deploy killer drones is by having a permanent state of war with an adversary². Remote drone warfare can be established with no boots on the ground and with minimal repercussions.
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These highly-equipped military drones can be deployed to surveil enemy targets for long periods. They can then be instructed to strike by remote operators whenever critical enemy assets and personnel expose themselves.
Since these activities are usually “confidential”, world leaders suffer little or no political blowback. So there is very little public pressure to cease these operations. Not only this, but it also blurs the lines of international law because there’s no clear distinction between being at war and not being at war.
Enables More Target Precision
The precision that is offered by military drones was the primary reason for its initial use³. These drones could provide images and videos of the vital enemy and terrorist assets — which provided an immediate and needed advantage. The problem is that authorities began using this newfound precision for controversial objectives.
Some of the biggest examples of these controversial drone use has come from Israel, the UK, and the United States⁴. These countries have used armed drones for various targeted killings.
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Legal scholars have defined these actions as premeditated and deliberate killings of selected personnel by a government that is not in their custody. Where the International Laws of War applies, targeted killing of combatants is legal. These laws support the use of lethal force when it is essential for saving human lives that are in imminent danger.
Many experts argue that these stipulations do not apply to most of these targeted drone killings.
Transfers Cost of War From Armies to Civilians
Whenever world leaders decide to put boots on the ground for a military mission, they are taking a political risk — unless their nation becomes united against a common foe. But when the general public fails to understand or even care about the military mission, they usually pay a steep political price.
The overall cost of war is a huge motivation for using killer drones. Rather than put the lives of soldiers at risk, and absorb the tremendous logistical cost associated with war, why not just let drones fight the battle?
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The problem with using killer drones is collateral damage — in the form of civilian lives. The fact is that way too many of these drone strikes are killing innocent civilians⁵.
Sadly, this is not exactly breaking news, yet world leaders continue using these killer drones. And until they pay a political price for their deadly decisions, they will keep firing remote drone missiles because it’s cheaper than using traditional military force.
Desensitizes War by Mimicking Video Games
Many experts are becoming concerned that remote operators who are executing kill shots from drones are developing a ‘PlayStation mentality’. In other words, are they becoming desensitized to cope with the horrific acts in which they are participating?
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Some believe these operators are distancing themselves psychologically because of the physical distances that separate them from the actual drone strikes.
Opponents to these assessments argue that drone pilots are highly trained and intelligent enough to distinguish between real life and a video game. They also point out that some of these pilots even suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing these drone strikes — which indicates no psychological detachment.
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However, there is still some evidence that this ‘PlayStation mentality’ does exist with many drone operators⁶. The real question is how desensitized are our leaders becoming about innocent civilians becoming casualties of these drone strikes.
Unfortunately, there are not many incentives out there for drone killing to stop anytime soon.
: BBC News. (January 31, 2012). Drones: What are they and how do they work? https://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-10713898.
: Willie Osterweil. (March 21, 2012). The Drone of Permanent War. https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/the-drone-of-permanent-war.
: James Rogers. (May 12, 2017). Drone warfare: The death of precision. https://thebulletin.org/2017/05/drone-warfare-the-death-of-precision/.
: Conor Friedersdorf. (December 23, 2016). Obama’s Weak Defense of His Record on Drone Killings. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/12/president-obamas-weak-defense-of-his-record-on-drone-strikes/511454/.
: Dan Sabbagh. (November 18, 2019). Killer drones: how many are there and who do they target? https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/nov/18/killer-drones-how-many-uav-predator-reaper.
: Ed Pilkington. (November 19, 2015). Life as a drone operator: ‘Ever step on ants and never give it another thought?’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/18/life-as-a-drone-pilot-creech-air-force-base-nevada.