Friday, March 27, 2015

"Targeted hurting" by drones

Sometimes I wonder if I am living in the right century.  I read this article about "the coming revolution of drone warfare" and was doing fine till I came to this paragraph:

Finally, lethal drones may make possible a new form of high-tech coercion: targeted hurting. Targeted terrorist-killing operations are designed to take an enemy off the battlefield. Targeted hurting could be designed to change any enemy’s behavior—by destroying selectively the family members, friends, associates, villages or capabilities that the enemy holds most dear.

Is this just the geopolitical environment in which we find ourselves or is the author (as suggested by a friend) a psychopath. If the former, wow.  If the latter, why does she get space in the Wall Street Journal?


Mary said...

Killing, targeted killing, enhanced terrorism techniques etc have become subjects of study, with a lot of backing ‎in the form of research funding at several Boston area universities. It seems to be replacing ‎a large part of what you'd think of historically as social science (political science in particular). Completely appalling.

Muni Dog ‏@munidog said...

From Twitter:

While the how it's done would be new, the concept of targeting is pretty ancient.

e-Patient Dave said...

Yeah; it seems to be a very, very tiny version of the ancient thing called ... genocide.

It seems to be a very focused, isolated tactic that in this case can only be called terrorism, in the sense of diminishing an enemy's motivation by creating terror about something that might happen. No different from the mob using such tactics, I'd guess, and for the same reasons.

I read long ago (which may be Mary's point) that people who study warfare - aggressively or defensively - inherently start with the knowledge that between here and some future date, some number of people are going to die, and that their questions are "How many" and "specifically who," and they set about assessing the options.

And some have a view that in this domain of death, such discussions are ethically important.

I remember a line in Ludlum's The Osterman Weekend in which one CIA operative says to a newbie, discussing a probable victim: "Try to think of her as a flea on a dog that gets hit by a car that swerves to avoid hitting a child."

"Greater Good"-ism. (Today on the elliptical I was listening to the audio of Gawande's "Being Mortal, and has he discussed various deaths young and old, a warning line from some mob movie came to mind: "Bad things happen to good people all the time, pal."

e-Patient Dave said...

Oh, and by the way, the very IDEA of drone warfare (or drone "soldiers," as some might say) ... THAT's what REALLY scares the crap out of me. Science fiction nightmare for real, not just in our lifetime, happening now.

Then just wait for the first successful hacking of the other side's drones. I can't imagine that it won't happen.