Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dehumanization of Warfare

War has always been a dehumanizing reality. In order to kill other human beings it is necessary to redefine them as some other than, or less than human.

War dehumanizes the warrior as well. In order to act as an effective killing machine a warrior has to be stripped of his humanity, distanced, ethically and geographically from the brutality of his actions, exempted from moral responsibility. Our "support the troops" attitude reduces the young men and women to amoral automatons who have no responsibility, and therefor no capacity for making moral judgements.

Remote controlled weapons and Robots will further distance and in some cases completely eliminate the human element from warfare. UAVs and UGVs will be programmed to kill without any direct human participation. Only the far distant policy-maker and programmer will have anything to do with the actual killing.

This may seem like a good thing. Removing our soldiers from the danger zone.

While it an awful truth that human being commit atrocities in warfare, it is also true that only the presence of moral humans in the midst of warfare have prevented it from sinking into complete depravity.

The current generation of gamers have the skill set to wage war remotely. There is little difference between the virtual warfare engaged in by gamers on a daily basis and the digital representation of targets on a real military computer screen. In fact the real targets are less graphically precise, less "real" looking, more abstract and more dehumanized than the high definition pretend victims that gamers are so comfortable blowing away.

There is nothing new about indiscriminate, automated killing machines that are programmed to kill without any human presence. This has been the reality with land mines for a long time.