So in my last post, I didn’t really get at why Obama’s use of drones is what make’s supporting him such a bitch. Answering that question is easy if the “double tap” air strikes are official or even unofficial “wink wink nudge nudge” policy. But if they’re not, shouldn’t that assuage my anxiety over whether I’m supporting a war criminal? That’d be nice but it’s just not the case. And I think that’s because my anxiety emerges from what the drones embody rather than the drones themselves.
In prior posts I’ve glorified information technology as not just a field leveler but as the essential tool for revolutionary action. In conversation I’ve equated the ideals of the open source movement to the ideals of the founding fathers. (I know, I know. I hate the term too but I’m using shorthand here. It is a blog after all.) I’ve said that the computer today is the musket of revolutionary times. And if I haven’t said those things overtly (or succinctly as I tend too ramble from time to time), they were certainly implied. I stand by those comparisons. But on the other side of revolutionary potential is the capacity to further oppress and kill.The same advances in technology that have made possible the instantaneous worldwide communication of social media play a crucial role in the efficacy of drone warfare. And as that technology has enabled various citizenry to unite and act in the name of common causes so too does it enable various military to isolate and kill targeted individuals. So big deal, right? Less collateral damage and better results. Doesn’t that make that case for employing drone warfare a moral one?
But at the same time this dynamic fits all too well into a distinctly American mythology of moral liberation. Our cinema offers us heroes and vigilantes freed from moral constraints. Our religion offers us salvation without sacrifice, Christ without a crucifix and inner peace without asceticism. Our free market offers us greater and greater returns with lower and lower risk – at least for those that can afford it. But these things are petty when compared to the technology that offers war without sacrifice – technology that makes saying, “Fuck it. Just bomb ’em” carry so little risk. I mean, the sixteen year old American citizen who was killed two weeks after his father was a terrorist too, right? I’ve said before that I believe technology to be neutral in its determinative capacity and that its results emerge from the institutions and policy surrounding it. But I also know that when handed a shovel I start to dig.
More on this in my next post but it’s getting late and I need to sleep.
On a side note…
Really, Mr. President? Way to reinforce the idea that the only people with something legitimate to say about guns are those that shoot them. Real nice.