The U.S. is using drones more and more under the Obama administration. Not so much, I think, because of Obama, but because the technology is bearing fruit at this time in the history of warfare.
Drones can gather intel as well is shoot missiles.
The advantage is that the drone pilots can be safe far from the battlefield. My father has a friend who has a daughter who flies drones in Afghanistan from a base in the Southwestern U.S. Then she goes home, after killing people during the day, to her husband and kids in the evening.
This is the future of warfare. Is it better or worse?
One thing to bear in mind: drones, like any military technology will be used against us someday.
Isn't technology wonderful!
When it comes to taking a life, distance is a person's best friend. Not just for physical safety, but for the human psyche. The closer you are to seeing what you're doing, the more adversely it can affect you. This is all after the fact of course. I understand there might be Bradburian implications, but right now it's just very, very practical.
So far, so good. We can kill more bad guys while killing less good guys. Precision strikes are far, far better than bombs that take out neighborhoods, and kill over 100k Iraquis the conventional way.
I know less about the future, but currently I'm more worried about terrorists setting off dirty bombs and innovating other mass destruction, than I'm worried about them trying to be more precise with drones. As far as other countries using their own drones, it'll happen anyway, so maybe this is our opportunity to set a precedent of obviously trying very hard not to abuse the power.
Meanwhile, the best solution of all is less war, and using technology to save lives, instead. That means helping the good guys live better with it too, instead of just trying to find and kill the bad guys that proliferate because they truly believe we're evil.
Well what is the purpose of warfare?
It's to destroy the opponent's ability and will to wage war.
While doing this, I believe you should do whatever is necessary to limit casualties on your own side, there's no point in needlessly sacrificing your own people. As such, if you can do the job (whatever it might be) with a drone instead of by risking one or more of your own people, do it.
I look forward to drone vs. drone warfare... just as long they are made from recycleable materials.
A very old original star trek episode comes to mind where a war is going on between two races on a planet. Only the war was between their computers. Could that be the next step after drones.
Computer warfare has already begun, actually. Apparently Israel has used cyberwarfare to damage Iran's ability to produce weapons grade uranium. China uses cyber espionage.
And what is our government's response to this looming threat? Almost nothing so far, even though a well-thought out plant could destroy America's power grid and water supply if not stopped,
I recall that episode - each side had agreed that after each simulated strike, the computers would calculate the potential casualties, and each side would execute that number of their own people, to correspond to the number the computers dictated.
Kirk destroyed the computers, so the people would have to fight a REAL war, with all its gore and human suffering. Maybe we should go back to sticks and stones. Or name-calling - we could bring back, "I know you are, but what am I?"
Maybe we should go back to sticks and stones.
Our current enemy considers face-to-face battle to be more honorable. Too bad they don't feel the same way about saving innocent lives, whenever possible. Even children are fair game, as long as they think Allah's blessing them.
Another key aspect of that episode (A Taste of Armageddon, and it was between two planets in the same system) is not just that the war was waged by computers, but that no actual destruction happened. People would be declared casualties of the "attack" and the casualties would dutifully march off to disintegration chambers.
Since nothing got destroyed--the buildings, infrastructure and culture lived on and no one was merely crippled by it--and people died clean deaths, there was little incentive to end the war and it had dragged on for five hundred years by the time the Enterprise showed up.
Drone warfare is nothing like this, actual explosives are delivered, albeit by remote control.
Gosh, if we could just get drones to fight other drones, then maybe we'll evolve to such warfare as chess games. Or maybe we'll decide it isn't fun anymore, if the ground isn't soaked in blood, and just give it up altogether.
Drones are just the latest step in desensitizing us from the horrors of war. Sterile and efficient. If we could somehow figure out the riddle of religion and it's elimination then maybe war would also disappear.
Watch "Atomic Mom" on the Doc channel - very sobering.
Religion is certainly a key ingredient of the problem, Ed, but with trolls like Ahmadinejad (Gesundheit!), it's not about religion as much as it's about power and ego. Napoleon was an Atheist.
"How can you have order in a state without religion? For, when one man is dying of hunger near another who is ill of overeating, he cannot resign himself to this difference unless there is an authority which declares 'God wills it thus.' Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet."
-- Napoleon Bonaparte --