The future of war was on display last week at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. There, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International showed and sold the latest weapons of death — drones, those unmanned fighter bombers currently used by the Obama administration to bomb children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Yemen. It was like a big, happy, drunken party for death. Fortunately, peacemakers took notice and held vigil and did what they could to call for the abolition of drones and war itself.
The 2012 convention featured 8,000 attendees, 500 exhibitors and representatives from 40 countries, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. But that didn’t stop my friends Franciscan Frs. Louis Vitale and Jerry Zawada and CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin from trying to enter the convention and staging a die-in right at the entrance.
“The convention was a celebration of killing technology,” Medea told me on the phone afterward, “and they are so anxious to wrap all this in the veneer of humanitarian good, how drones can find lost children, for example. They say the drones can help, but it’s a humanitarian cover. Inside the convention, it’s all about military.”
Medea knows what she is talking about. She has just published a powerful new book, Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.
“My book is about how we have to counter the image, offered by one government official, that these drones are ‘surgically precise, just, ethical and wise,’ ” she said. “It looks into the legal and moral issues: What happens to the pilots who direct them; who produces the drones; how they kill people; how it has become a growth market and how counter-productive these drones actually are. They pose a real threat to the rest of the world. We can go anywhere now to kill anyone on the basis of secret information. Why shouldn’t other nations do the same thing, even to us?…