Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Drones...and Ultrarunning

Sunday was the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner, in which the press mingles socially with the politicians.  Many people think it's an ill-conceived affair that lessens the ability of the press to ask the hard questions of the people they cover.  But that's another aspect.  Today I want to mention one blogger's perspective, Cenk Uyger, whose mind wandered off to drone strikes.

Then the president spoke at the dinner itself. He was brilliant. It was genuinely funny. It was better than any stand up I have seen in awhile. At every joke and smile, he seemed like the most likeable guy in the world. Here's the problem -- I kept thinking about the drone strikes. I know, I am the world's biggest downer (and hypocrite to boot for laughing at the jokes and generally enjoying the night).

I kept thinking how could that nice guy be the one who just ordered "signature" drone strikes where we bomb people without even knowing who they are. If you don't know about this program, I know that it seems unbelievable, but it's absolutely true. In Yemen and Pakistan, we can order drone strikes without having any idea who the target is or who the people we are firing at are. The kinds of strikes where we know who we're bombing are now called "personality" strikes. Isn't it amazing that they have a word for that?

Signature strikes versus Personality strikes.  Now there's food for thought when I head to the C+O Canal for a long run later this week.  To use an activity example near and dear to our hearts, imagine you're running on the C+O, just running, and suddenly without any warning you are vaporized because a foreign government wishes you dead.  Any running companions are instantly vaporized as well. Oh, and also the family who just happened to be biking by in the opposite direction gets obliterated as well.

Now, there are likely legitimate uses of drones or  any other war-making devices.  But we must never lose sight of the fact that when war becomes too easy, too push-button, we may tend to use it as a first resort instead of the last resort that it should be.

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