The Attack of the Drones

Spiegel Online
talked to P.W. Singer of the Brookings Institution about the increasing role of military drones in warfare. They are more widely used than I imagined — the U.S. alone has 7,000 drones flying, and 43 other countries have programs as well.

As a result, warfare — and the experience of it — is changing:

The act of going to war used to entail you taking upon great risks. You might not come home one day. You might not see your family again. Now it’s different. I heard a drone pilot explain it this way: You’re going to war for one hour, and then you get in the car and drive home, and within two minutes you’re sitting at the dinner table talking about your kids’ homework. This is a very different experience of war….

In the beginning we feared that drones may make the operators not really care about what they’re doing. But the opposite has turned out to be true. They may almost care too much. We’re seeing higher levels of combat stress among remote units than among some units in Afghanistan. We found significantly increased fatigue, emotional exhaustion and burnout. Drone operators are more likely to suffer impaired domestic relationships, too.

You can find the entire brief but fascinating interview here. Highly recommended.

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C-SPAN just put its entire video library online, and politinerds may never sleep again. If that’s you, grab some coffee and head over. You’ve got over 160,000 hours of video to get through, so no time to waste, Newt.

[Hat tip: Taegan Goddard]

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Here’s the kind of thing you’ll love, if you love this kind of thing. In the December 1900 issue of The Ladies Home Journal, mystery novelist John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. penned a surprisingly prescient article entitled, “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years.” These sorts of lists are usually filled with charming items that reveal the naivete of the age (‘Moving staircases will take us to the moon’ — that kind of thing). Not so with Mr. Watkins, Jr., who gets it right more often than not.

A few examples:

  • “Hot or cold air will be turned on from spigots to regulate the temperature of a house as we now turn on hot or cold water from spigots to regulate the temperature of the bath….”
  • “Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of to-day. They will purchase materials in tremendous wholesale quantities and sell the cooked foods at a price much lower than the cost of individual cooking….”
  • “Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later….”
  • “Grand Opera will be telephoned to private homes, and will sound as harmonious as though enjoyed from a theatre box….”

Have a look at a reproduction of the article here.


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Brian Saint-Paul was the editor and publisher of Crisis Magazine. He has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America, in Washington. D.C. In addition to various positions in journalism and publishing, he has served as the associate director of a health research institute, a missionary, and a private school teacher. He lives with his wife in a historic Baltimore neighborhood, where he obsesses over Late Antiquity.

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