Robot planes or “drones” are dropping bombs on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
As human beings below are crushed or blown up or have their homes and villages blown up, the “pilot” of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle sees only the Google map on his computer screen and the pinpoint locations to which he has sent the bombs.
The “pilot” may be at a computer screen in Afghanistan or Pakistan or even in the United States. Space is the navigational medium. “Denial” is the ethical medium.
Kids are raised playing computer games in which objects on the screen are shot down. No obvious harm there. 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 without seeing the suffering.
Within a year, the Google Earth applications will be available for iPhones and Blackberries made for U.S. troops.
On the ground, men, women and children are bloody, dying or dead with screams, panic, indescribable fear and pain and cataclysms of emotion and no one sees them. No pilot looks down from space and sees what he has wrought. No U.S. TV watcher sees the death and anguish he or she has indirectly wrought.
In our “we’re No. 1!” 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 “adversaries” have their lives obliterated in bloody deaths.
But 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 has not only solidified the Taliban as an organization but has also created increasing public support for it.
According to Bill Sulzman and Loring Wirbel of Citizens for Peace in Space, a moral review of space policy 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 public. They ask, how can real public discourse happen?
The U.S. has plans for ownership of orbital space, and currently U.S. satellites for intelligence, communications and navigation are the primary reasons the U.S. and its allies can conduct war.
However, President Barack Obama has canceled missile defense components in Poland and the Czech Republic and the world’s leaders are pledging to work harder to banish nuclear weapons. Obama has called for a review of the National Space Policy.
Space is the ultimate commons. It belongs to us all. No country has the right to dominate the planet through unilateral control — not even good old Numero Uno.
Let’s get over it.
Judith Mohling is a member of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.