I guess things changed for me when our president joked about using a military drone armed with Hellfire missiles to defend his daughters against sexual advances from the Jonas brothers. Whoever they are. Maybe they go by the Jonas Brothers with a capital B? They must be famous to make it into the president’s joke. I know it was just a joke when he said, “I have two words for you: Predator drone.” (When he says “Predator drone” he looks directly at the camera, which is to say, directly at me.) I know he’s just joking, so I should be able to chuckle along with him. I want to be able to chuckle along with him. He is the president, after all. He should be entitled to a joke now and again. But joking about our drones, responsible for so many remote control deaths, indicates something that I don’t want to imagine, haven’t wanted to imagine, and that I still can’t bring myself to imagine. That we, as a country, have lost our moral compass. And that we are becoming, increasingly, a sociopathic people.
Which is to say, something to live in fear of.
To kill without remorse requires a certain level of sociopathology. Perhaps a great deal of sociopathology. As a society, we expect our soldiers to kill on our behalf, and we expect our military to train our soldiers to do this without hesitation and without remorse. We then expect our soldiers to reintegrate seamlessly into society when they are no longer needed in battle. But humans are not designed for this level of sociopathology. Even with very impressive and aggressive indoctrination, they still fail us in periods of great duress. They develop nightmares. They see dead people. They experience remorse. They experience depression. They experience anxiety. They experience rage. They do not seamlessly reintegrate. Then, when we say, to hell with it, I’ll just go do the killing myself since these sorry bastards are a bunch of limp-wristed pansies…oh, wait, we never actually do that, we just send over some more soldiers and roll the dice with them.
But here is the scary thing. The thing that is different now then it has ever been in any other time.
Increasingly, we are relying more and more on drones, and less and less on soldiers on the ground, to do our killing. This is to say, we recognize the toll that killing is taking on our soldiers, so we are resorting to machinery to get the job done.
Waging war by remote control and exterminating people with machines constitutes nothing short of abject moral failure. It is a crime against humanity. It is heinous. We are hurtling into a great darkness. Nothing appears on the horizon to deter our trajectory. We even joke about it for the camera.
Which is to say, if ever there was a time to fear our own country, and fear for our own country, it is now.
U.S. Army (IRR)