So, the big question here is about medals....
 about my fifth edit here
Maybe I shouldnt even mention morality here, but, just to be clear: I'm not at all saying that we should be discussing the morality of different aspects of the topic here. Just that the medals discussion is so the other end of the scale... I apologise in advance cause I reckon I will have already offended some people with my response. But I just dont know how else to say it at this moment and time - and I dont want to leave it unsaid. Apart from the above, the debate (medals) doesnt seem to me to fit into the (international) dc community/forum. [/edit]
It's not about medals per se
as it's what medals represent
and how they make a clear statement about the 'official' attitude towards something. Medals serve to acknowledge and encourage certain acts and behaviors on the part of the military.
To award a medal is to say something is both meritorious and deserving of recognition - which goes right to the heart of the entire drone debate.
Is this type of military behavior acceptable and moral? And is it the sort of thing the people in the USA want to see done and encouraged in their name
by their (supposedly) freely elected government? Because if it's not, why would we ever consider issuing a medal?
The United States (and many other countries) have biological and chemical weapons. While some may argue for the necessity of maintaining an inventory, or the capability of producing such weapons (always in the name of that favorite catchall: deterrence
), nobody sane has ever proposed awarding a medal exclusively for meritorious service in the support or deployment of such weapons. And although this comparison is a admittedly extreme, there are still many of us who feel that unmanned/remote warfare is a step down a dangerously similar road. So much so that remote controlled weapons should not be allowed to become the norm
on the battlefield even if the technical capability to make them so now exists.
War is dehumanizing in and of itself. To pull the human off the battlefield further dehumanizes things and allows those nations (which can afford
such technology) to wage war without the human toll, thereby making it far easier to "sell" the latest governmental military venture to the public.
But it gets worse...
Some have already made serious legal arguments that the President of the United States requires no
approval (other than the executive powers of his/her own
office) to deploy US remote weapon systems anywhere in the world - and for whatever reasons deemed necessary - by the President alone
That's handing a very big stick to a group of people who have a very poor track record regarding the rule of law or the checks and balances on executive power provided by the US Constitution.
It's also important to remember that the US military has always served as check against out of control political power in the US. Our military is educated in the law. Huge amounts of time are spent at military academies learning about the rules of warfare, constitutional law, and ethics. Something our military seems to understand and respect far more than its civilian leaders sometimes do.
Drones are a very real danger because of that. If some politicos decided to do a power grab they'd need to convince the military to go along. I doubt they'd succeed. It didn't happen at the height of the cold war. And I doubt it would now.
But...if you could have a huge arsenal of remotely piloted drones - or semi-autonomous robots like the next generation of these weapons promises to be; plus
a few thousand "right thinking" individuals (with police and 'security' backgrounds) installed in secret command locations; with
access to that huge domestic monitoring system the US has secretly built over the last ten years...it just might
be sufficient to pull off that long feared US coup d'état
Drones are a weapon that, much like nuclear/chemical/biological weapons, are something we really can't be trusted with. And if they must be used, they should only be allowed in extremely limited and clearly defined scenarios - and certainly not purely at the discretion of a single man
We've avoided nuclear war by the simple expedient of its price being too horrible to contemplate. We've avoided chemical and biological conflict largely due to the overwhelming disgust and refusal of most people on this planet to condone or tolerate such weapons.
Drones and unmanned weapons represent a new and significant threat because they remove the perceived
"human price tag" attached to military action. And that's where the real problem and danger lies. As long as your
nation is on the trigger end of this technology, there is no perceived human cost. Your designated adversary has been completely dehumanized - reduced to little more than a graphic on a tactical map - or a grainy IR image on a display screen housed in a bunker 5000 miles away.
And that's a very dangerous development in tactical warfare.
One that can only be contained by a near universal attitude which clearly says: This is not
acceptable. This will not
And you can start by refusing to glorify
the use of such technology. Or attempt to make it somehow psychologically equivalent
to human presence on the battlefield.
And that's why the decision to award - or not award
- a medal for involvement in drone combat operations is so important.
Not about medals?
Or at least so it seems to me.
Apart from the above, the debate (medals) doesnt seem to me to fit into the (international) dc community/forum.
I'm not sure if I understand the point being made there. Maybe something went missing in translation?