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Drones and Dishonor in Central New York
If war becomes unreal to the citizens of modern democracies, will they care enough to restrain and control the violence exercised in their name? Will they do so, if they and their sons and daughters are spared the hazards of combat?
- Michael Ignatieff, Virtual War (2000)
The drones are coming. Readers of the Syracuse Post-Standard know that the drones (a.k.a. Reapers) are arriving at the local New York Air National Guard Base at Hancock Airport.
These Reapers are a new level of aerial warfare. They are high-flying, sharp-shooting, 36-foot-long robots. They are crewless - remote-controlled - aircraft. Although they are unmanned, drones do have "pilots." Those pilots operate in front of computer screens in ground control rooms far from any target.
Last year the former congressperson for the district, James Walsh (R-New York), hailed the arrival of the Reaper. Not only will it provide a few jobs, but, Walsh said, this killer allows pilots to be "literally fighting a war in Iraq and at the end of their shift be playing with their kids in Camillus" (P-S, 25 June 2008, page A1).
Drone surveillance covers the US/Mexico and US/Canada borders. In Gaza, the Israeli Air Force uses them to assassinate Palestinians. In its various overseas wars, the US military has come to depend on drones to assassinate humans while bombing vehicles and buildings. Drones preying on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan are piloted from Creech Air Base in Nevada. Beginning this November, Reapers will also be piloted from Central New York. Read more.