Few know that tracking terrorists or (possibly) innocent victims in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan has become the equivalent of a video game.
Four former Air Force drone operators have sent an open letter to President Barack Obama and are giving interviews to promote a movie documentary about the subject.
Michael Haas, a former senior airman, told The Guardian of London about teams of three staring at computer screens an air base outside Las Vegas, tracking insurgents and sometimes killing them remotely.
Airman Haas: “Ever step on ants and never give it another thought? … You start to do these psychological gymnastics to make it easier to do what you have to do – they deserved it, they chose their side. You had to kill part of your conscience to keep doing your job every day – and ignore those voices telling you this wasn’t right.”
(Disclosure: My personal assistants had an exterminator spray for ants, which makes them international war criminals, I suppose.)
Airman Haas told of operators coping with drone duty by drinking and using drugs, as well as using un-PC terms like “cutting the grass before it grows out of control” and “pulling the weeds before they overrun the lawn.” Children were referred to as “fun-sized terrorists.”
The drone operators also rehashed the familiar arguments that U.S. foreign policy is killing a handful of terrorists along the way while creating many more in the long run.
What’s the answer? My nomination can be found at ClicheSite.com: You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.