What on Earth is David Hambling thinking? He’s saying we should award drone pilots medals? For what? The 90% collateral damage rate?
Even ex-drone operators have called drone strikes “cowardly murder.” You might as well be awarding medals for killing babies with missiles… oh wait YOU ARE!!!!
When defense secretary Chuck Hagel thought about doing it 3 years ago, the American Legion veterans’ organization and others complained that such a medal would be demeaning to holders of existing combat awards. And who can blame them?
You get medals for valor and bravery; for putting your life on the line for your country; for acts of supreme self-sacrifice. Drone strikes are none of those!
Ridiculousness aside, more important than the insult to actually brave and valorous soldiers is the psychological damage that drone strikes inflict on the drone operators themselves. Drone operators may not risk their lives, but they do risk permanent moral and psychological damage from the evil they’re compelled to carry out; the guilt, stress and anxiety sending them spiraling down towards suicide, drugs, homelessness, and dysfunction.
In an open letter to President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and CIA Director John Brennan, former drone operators said they killed innocent civilians and gone on to suffer life-crushing guilt–commonly known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The weight on their hearts and souls is heavy and real. Statistics show that drone strikes can be very imprecise, featuring some months-long periods where 90% of victims are not the intended target.
As it is not uncommon for operators to kill 1,500 people or more over the course of their careers, and they are forced to confront the fact that at least hundreds of the people they’ve killed were innocent. Can you imagine the guilt you’d feel if you thought you’d murdered a few hundred innocent children?
Which brings us to the more salient point. Drone strikes increase terrorism, not reduce it, and it is the killing of so many innocents that is driving terrorism up. In the letter, drone operators state that “This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world,” and they aren’t wrong.
It’s been reported that the 5 trillion USD War on Terror increased terror 6500%. Seems like a high price for failure but it’s nothing compared to the price paid by the victims of the War on Terror themselves. Physicians for Social Responsibility estimate that the War on Terror has caused 1.3-2 million deaths,–and that was back in 2015.
No wonder, then, that the drone program has been called “the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times.” This is cowardly terrorism being used in illegal wars of choice. Is this really what we’re considering awarding medals for, David?
We’re very sorry for the offense this might cause some war vets, but this form of killing doesn’t earn one medals. This form of killing is one of the lowest, most dishonorable, most cowardly forms of murder in human history and it’s effects have been devastating for operators and victims alike.
The poor drone operators get to suffer debilitating stress for the rest of their lives. Giving them medals for their crimes would be like a sick joke. Like–We know you feel absolutely horrible for wiping out all those innocent lives, so congratulations! – Here’s a medal for it! Great job!
So please let’s be serious. Let’s not give drone operators medals, instead let’s stop making them commit these sickening crimes in the first place by banning drone strikes all together.