U.S. robot planes, or drones, are spying and dropping bombs on Afghanistan and Pakistan. As human beings below are crushed or blown up, the 'pilot' of the unmanned aerial vehicle is miles and miles away from the tragedies, maiming, death and fear his human targets, their families and other innocents undergo. He or she sees only the Google map and infrared images on a computer screen.
"I watch him bleed out," said Brandon Bryant, 27, who served as a drone operator from 2006 to 2011 at bases in Nevada, New Mexico and Iraq, in an interview with NBC News foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Bryant revealed that he helped kill 1,626 people from a computer screen and watched them die on the screen. He went on to say that he now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Kids are raised playing computer games in which objects on the screen are shot down. Air Force pilots who grew up playing computer games sit in safe comfort and pinpoint targets on Google Earth touch screens and direct the bombs. Bryant recalled in the interview that when he was being recruited he was told he would be like the "smart guys in the control room of a James Bond movie."
In our, "we're number one!" society, this warfare may be appealing to the White House and to the public because the kill ratio is remarkably lopsided — no U.S. troops have to die, and thousands of so-called 'militants' as well as innocents have their lives obliterated in bloody deaths with no chance for justice.
Isn't Bryant a victim too? His life may be forever compromised by his memories. Won't the day of reckoning arrive? Aren't we engendering the wrath and indignation of more and more of the world's citizens by our unilateral, imperious behavior? The U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan has not only solidified the Taliban as an organization but has also created increasing public support for it.
A moral review of drone policies is ruled out because the critic can never have access to the secret information needed for evaluation. Hiding the truth from the enemy means hiding it from the U.S. public.
No country has the right to dominate the planet. We must push our government beyond this travesty of humane values.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" column runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.