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Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 01:25 | SYDNEY
Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 01:25 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: More on war games

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This post is part of the Remote-control warfare debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

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5 May 2010 07:41


This post is part of the Remote-control warfare debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

Matt Currie responds to our debate:

There seems to me to be two separate questions here which are being blurred in this debate. One is practical and the other moral.

Firstly, If playing computer games desensitised people to the act of killing wouldn't there be measurable consequences? Gaming is incredibly popular amongst the whole community (not just the military). I'm no statistician but wouldn't there be a rise in the number of killings;  a higher murder rate? I am not aware of any evidence which supports this.

Even if the games do have a desensitising effect, is there any evidence that this is greater than the effect of military training? Professional soldiers are already conditioned to kill on command. My own experience is that the combination of training, military culture (that emphasizes toughness), the need to follow orders and to do one's duty have a greater effect than playing military simulation games.

Secondly, military personnel kill on the orders of the politicians who deploy them. The moral weight of the decision to kill should fall on the politician, not the soldier. When the State sends soldiers to fight we should do all in our power to protect them. The evolution of military technology throughout history has been aimed at reducing the risk to soldiers and increasing the danger to their enemies, I doubt we will ever change this trend. There is no going back.

Lastly, having seen the debilitating effect that PTSD has on friends who have served on military operations I would suggest that if it is proven that there is a desensitising effect on drone pilots, an office in Nevada might still be a welcome alternative to front line service.

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