[Note to Tomdispatch Readers: Last week, I thanked those of you who responded to an appeal to round up new subscribers to sign up for Tomdispatch emails notifying them whenever I post at the site. That thank-you resulted in another little flood of subscriptions. I’m truly appreciative. Even if this note results in a third small inundation, I know when enough is enough. I swear I’ll restrain myself from thanking you yet again, lest this come to seem a modest subscription scam.
By the way, although today’s piece stands on its own, it might also be read as part 2 of “Blowing Them Away Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry, Globalization Bush-style,” which I posted in mid-March. Tom]
9 Propositions on the U.S. Air War for Terror
By Tom Engelhardt
Let’s start with a few simple propositions.
First, the farther away you are from the ground, the clearer things are likely to look, the more god-like you are likely to feel, the less human those you attack are likely to be to you. How much more so, of course, if you, the “pilot,” are actually sitting at a consol at an air base near Las Vegas, identifying a “suspect” thousands of miles away via video monitor, “following” that suspect into a house, and then letting loose a Hellfire missile from a Predator drone cruising somewhere over Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, or the tribal areas of Pakistan.
Second, however “precise” your weaponry, however “surgical” your strike, however impressive the grainy snuff-film images you can put on television, war from the air is, and will remain, a most imprecise and destructive form of battle.
Third, in human terms, distance does not enhance accuracy. The farther away you are from a target, the more likely it is that you will have to guess who or what it is, based on spotty, difficult to interpret or bad information, not to speak of outright misinformation; whatever the theoretical accuracy of your weaponry, you are far more likely to miscalculate, make mistakes, mistarget, or target the misbegotten from the air.