Sunday, August 24, 2008
Remote Control Death
The most under reported story of the last few days seems to be the disputed casualty figures from a NATO Coalition airstrike in Azizabad village in the Herat region of Afghanistan on August 22. The Americans reported that they had killed 30 Taleban militants, the figure was said to include 5 women and children.
The Afghan Government and Nato is now admitting that 89 civilians, perhaps more were killed in an aerial bombardment. Most of the victims were children.
The Americans were said to be acting in the belief that they were bombing a meeting of the Taleban Commander, Mullah Siddiq. The gathering was actually a funeral.
Of course this has caused a lot of turmoil in the Karzai government, who have to deal with the fall out from the never ending massacres of Afghani civilians who are so often the targets of these raids.
Many sources admit that these incidents are part of the reason that the Taleban seems to be actually gaining in strength and recruitment.
A little discussed fact is the nature of the bombing operations by the United States Air Force in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has become the testing grounds for a new kind of warfare. The bombing is done by pilotless drones, the MQ-9 Reapers, which can stay airborn for up to 14 hours. The high tech Air Force operation is run by the 174th Fighter Wing. The drones are flown from bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the controlling is from operators at Creech Airforce base in Nevada!
The operators are running the bombing operations as if they were very advanced video gaming. It is a surreal experience to be so disassociated from the action. The operator is over half a world away in an air conditioned facility. There is no reason to feel the least bit of connection with the destruction and death in this situation. This surreal situation creates a sythentic psychotic personality. It trivializes the idea of war.
Death is dealt out impersonally, on order, a set of coordinates.
One good thing about the Cold War. We lived with the reality of nuclear anniliation and it worked as a deterrent. It was very easy to accept the idea that war was not a very good way for intelligent humans to settle their problems, but with all these smart, impersonal fun game type weapons, war seems to be a very good carreer move for a young man who has spent a lifetime sitting at a video consol playing games......