I haven’t read this entire excerpt, but the rise of the drone raises more questions than the obvious ones concerning basic morality and “rules of engagement.”
At the end of the movie classic “Patton,” the general responds to a reporter’s question about the “wonder weapons” of the coming era:
“Wonder weapons? By G-d, I don’t see the wonder in them. Killing without heroics? Nothing is glorified? Nothing is reaffirmed? No heroes, no cowards, no troops, no… generals. Only those who are left alive, and those who are left… dead. I’m glad I won’t live to see it.”
The message here is not the glorification of warfare. What Patton understood is that conflict brings out the true essence of a person. Cowards are revealed as cowards, providing the opportunity for reappraisal. Heroes are not merely revealed… they are created through their engagement on the field of combat. The heat of battle requires them to tap into unrealized potential.
This doesn’t require a battlefield of armies. It does require that we take up arms against our lesser selves and strive to conquer our baser impulses and inclinations. It demands that we grapple with the complex issues of good and evil and not take refuge in political slogans or groupthink.
In a culture of automation, we have a harder fight not to become automatons ourselves. We can comfortably join the army of drones, or we can meet the challenge, rise to the occasion, and emerge victorious as heroes.