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Reader ripostes: Drone warfare and more

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COMMENTS

18 September 2012 13:47

Gerard Hammond writes:

Two uses of the word 'beheading' in disparate follow-on articles. Please, we have had enough of the irresponsible language. You should know better.

Geoff Randal on the drone warfare discussion:

The idea that military work is blessed by mutual exposure to (military) risk is a curious one, once it is viewed beyond the military sphere.

As a civilian, I had imagined that it was the state that licensed military personnel to kill. Not much different from the licence handed to armed police, the licence itself comes with conditions. If you are to fight and kill in our name, please win. And while you're about it, do so with respect to the law, and, more complex, please respect also our changing sensitivities. So no chopping ears off the dead enemy, rape or pillage, thank you. Or the licence might be revoked.

Alex Burns, also on drones:

I'm yet to read Andrew Croome's Midnight Empire but a quick observation: the intersection of Las Vegas and military research was already evident in the early work of civilian defence intellectuals on nuclear strategy, such as the Monte Carlo simulations used for Herman Kahn's On Thermonuclear War (1960). Fred Kaplan's PhD The Wizards of Armageddon (1991) has more details.

The drones debate about war now fought 'at a distance' also recalls Manuel De Landa's cybernetic, postmodern War In The Age of Intelligent Machines (1991), which responded to the 1990-91 Gulf War. Drones as killing technology might be new but the drive to 'de-risk' combat experience is ancient: it can be found in the Chinese Seven Military Classics and their deception stratagems. Finally, an in-depth consideration of the warrior ethic can be found in the 'moral calculus' that novelist William T Vollmann developed over decades of research for Rising Up and Rising Down (2005).

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