One thing I tend to think about a lot is the drone weapons that we are using to apparently negligible effect in Pakistan and Afghanistan. By “negligible” I mean that the drones seem to succeed in killing people marked for assassination, as well as some others who weren’t marked for anything except lunch, but don’t seem to have brought us any closer to winning and going home.
The idea of remote-controlled seeing-eye bombs, as opposed to the old, World War II-style drop ‘em and hope they land somewhere relevant seems like a wonderful thing, and they sure as heck beat the risks entailed by boots on the ground, though I suspect we’re learning that in the final analysis you can’t beat boots. It’s nice to think that you can strike like Zeus throwing a lightning spear from Mt. Olympus and then go home for turkey, stuffing, and a cold beer, just like it was another day at work.
What I wonder about, though, is what happens when that technology proliferates, as all technologies eventually do. We worry quite a bit about explosive dangers large and small, from the proliferation of nuclear weapons to car bombs to backpacks and suitcases stuffed with explosives. Will there someday be a point when the bad guys can also point and click their way to death and destruction? I imagine that the technology involved is sophisticated, but that never stopped anyone from figuring things out, and it’s also always possible that some nice nation will want to make a buck by selling the things to the highest bidder, at which point you don’t have to decode the technology, you just have to read the manual and figure out which button to push.
Sometimes I think I may yet live to see Patriot missiles in Times Square.