America has been at war in the Middle East for over a decade. That’s a long time. If I’m not mistaken, it’s longer than any war the U.S has been in. Yes, we are out of Iraq, more or less, but we’re still in Afghanistan, and I’m not seeing any quick, easy exit coming up.
I think a big part of why this war has dragged on is that it’s not real. That’s right - not real. For many of us, it is a video game. There is no draft, and most people don’t know anyone fighting. I don’t. This is in contrast to the Vietnam War, when everyone knew someone who was fighting - and probably dying - and was protesting.
What’s more, we now have drones. These unmanned planes, which drop bombs in Afghanistan, are controlled by a guy working a shift in a room somewhere in America. Talk about a video game!
And now there’s a plane coming out, the X-47B, which can not only land itself on an aircraft carrier but also will know what kind of weapons it’s carrying, when and where it needs to refuel with an aerial tanker and whether there’s a nearby threat. As Carl Johnson, Northrop’s X-47B program manager, was recently quoted in the Los Angeles Times, “It will do its own math and decide what to do next.”
So, as the Times article brings up, who is responsible for the bombs dropped and the deaths they cause? The commander who used the plane? The politician who authorized it? The military’s acquisition process? The programmer? The manufacturer?
And what if, dear God, there’s a glitch?