Predator Drones, Reaper Drones, and Total Disconnect
by Rosalie Riegle
I was arrested Sunday October 9, along with 17 Catholic Workers, Franciscan priests, and peacemakers from the War Resisters League, Nevada Desert Experience (NDE), and Code Pink. In commemoration of the endless Afghanistan war and as a final activity of a national Catholic Worker gathering, we sat down in front of an entrance to Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada. Wearing the bright blue scarves adopted by the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, we were joined by over 100 other protesters who stood along the roadway with signs and prayers.
Creech is one of the launching bases for the Drones, or unmanned aerial bombers, with apt names like “Predator” and “Reaper.” It’s a place where soldiers sit behind computer screens and kill the citizens of other nations by moving their thumbs. When the police asked us to leave the gate to the base, we didn’t obey and they gently removed us. The arrest wasn’t a big deal, really, even though the trial and consequences may be.
The Drones are a big deal! I think about them more and more lately, especially when I see a grandchild’s fingers on a Nintendo DS. Then I think about water gun fights at the cottage, how everyone had a water pistol and how the game stopped so folks could refill. In a water gun fight, as in traditional warfare before airplanes, at least there was a parity.
Aerial bombing destroyed the parity and with it any chance of a soldier thinking he or she can fulfill a mythical hero role. Drone warfare degrades it even further. Air Force personnel sit behind a screen in an air-conditioned room here in the U.S. and direct Predators and Reapers on their deadly missions to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. Maybe other countries, too. Then they put their Nintendo-esque toys away and go home to dinner. This unequal, no warning, hands-off combat is all in a day’s work. I’ve even heard that now the military is trying to figure out a way to give medals of honor to these daily warriors with their joy-stick controls.
It’s obscene as all warfare is. It’s aberrational, a Star Wars nightmare come true. What scares me the most about this kind of disconnected killing is that almost every child in the U.S. now grows up clicking buttons with their thumbs and playing war games with hand-held devices. Our entire culture prepares them to drone warfare, what popsci.com calls “point, click, and kill." Only with the Predators and Reapers, the thumbs can’t push “cancel” and start a new game. The building has been hit, the people are dead. “Terrorists” or children, the Predators can’t tell. The disconnect is total.
The citizens of this country simply must start thinking about the Drones, must start working to stop Drone warfare. We don’t have to be on total disconnect! The Nevada Desert Experience has published the facts, especially research that shows Drone warfare to be less accurate and more lethal to civilians than government reports claim. NDE will also have up-to-date news about our trial and another upcoming trial for a Drone action at Hancock AFB in New York.
Get the facts, become involved, stop the Drones!
Rosalie Riegle, of Evanston, Illinois, wants us to remember “Our grief is not a cry for war,” the words of Barbara Lee (D-CA, 9th District) as she cast the lone congressional vote against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force after the September, 2001 attack.