There’s no ‘I’ in ‘remote control drone massacre’

reaperTo the untrained eye, it’s tempting to assume that all the credit for what a drone does should go to the operator. It’s just too easy to single out one person as the hero of the hour. Yes, I obviously play an important role, and yes, it’s my finger which pressed the button to actually fire on that wedding party, but we shouldn’t forget that it’s a collaborative effort.

Modern warfare is a team game. It takes thousands of people, all working together over a long period of time, to achieve the impressive end results we deliver time and time again. For example, the guy who does the Excel spreadsheet, to work out how much firepower we can afford to send in that hospital’s direction. It might not seem like much, but he’s an essential cog in the bigger military-industrial-complex machine. Then there’s the cooks who prepare the food that keeps us massacre-ready. And then the lawyers who establish that our conduct falls just below the internationally-recognised criteria for what constitutes a ‘war crime’, and that anyway, those toddlers probably had guns. You can’t take the praise without remembering who got you where you are.

When we’re watching the explosions on our control screens, we can sometimes forget they’re just the final piece of the puzzle. But it’s not just the destination that’s important – it’s also how you get there. Regardless of whether we efficiently wipe out a dangerous Taliban insurgent, or accidentally carpet-bomb an entire village because someone mistook a 4 for a 7 like I maybe just did, it’s all of us who share the responsibility. I really have to stress that. All of us. Together.

I’m not saying I’m not important. It takes a lot to sit in an air-conditioned room and kill people like in a computer game. But for one of us to stand before our families or the President or a military police inquiry and take all the credit? That’s just plain unfair. I’d call that wrong.
We’re all in this together.

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