A previous article of mine on drone philosophy looked at what was happening with drones. These military un-piloted instruments of war can target and send a "kill message" to anyone, anywhere.
This is poignant as yesterday 6 June was D-Day in 1944 - the WWII Allies landing on the beaches of Normandy. Ponder what today’s technology of drones could have achieved and the lives saved.
Meanwhile, in that 2013 article I noted the instant reality of the Biblical announcement that he who lives by the sword dies by the sword, that who pull the levers of decision making to dish out the wholesale murder of bystanders as a political statement - are now themselves targeted very personally, "one by one" as it were.
This is a new phenomenon, where instant accountability is accredited. We need only look back seventy years to the Holocaust and how that evil emerged and evolved from one step to another – labour camps, bashings, shootings, carbon-monoxide vehicles and finally gassing and the final solution.
Some of the Nazi leaders went through the Nuremberg trial process, but most of the perpetrators escaped any punishment at all. The television series Auschwitz showed how after the WWII many of the guards ended up on a singing tour of Britain and hosted in British homes totally unsuspecting. It detailed one Holocaust survivor returning to his home town in Poland to be bluntly told he was neither welcome and his family's house had somehow been designated freehold and sold.
Indeed we know the passage well, that revenge is mine says the Lord, but it stands in balance with a host of other Biblical teaching where standing for right is a duty of the follower of the Lord. As Edmund Burke exclaimed, evil abounds when good men do nothing.
For as long as history has been recorded and as our own memories serve, never has there been a time until now, when "accountability" has become the weapon of choice against those who have unmistakeably delivered death with mayhem.
The critical issue relates to civilians (non-combatants) being killed when a drone strikes is uppermost. The question posed is who draws the line as to the risks to civilians become too high. The danger is that using them is so convenient for policy makers that they will be used them too much.
This new type of war is not one where commanders in chief and battalion generals are leaning over a large table with maps and diagrams and making strategic decisions for down the line to follow so as to ultimately defeat the enemy.
This is a technological situation where the warrior is a highly trained military technician and so very bright. These operatives are digitally targeting their quarries – they press the button - zap! After their shift, they go home to their family, enjoy meals, play with the kids and snuggle up in a warm comfortable bed. Then it's back next shift to the killing field of technology.
70 nations now have drones
The ultimate problem with all this is that eventually everyone will have drones and all with similar capability. Will there be a drone moratorium as there has been with nuclear weapons? Today, right now, there are at least 70 nations with drones and it may not be long before they end up in the hands of nastier types.
These are questions and issues being raised by a host of theologians and philosophers. Already the US Methodist Church has come out against drones and many other similar church concerns have been expressed. One report was ISIS fighters prohibit the use of mobile phones as technology picks it up and a deadly drone does its thing.
The Israeli's have for some time, using a variety of warfare methodologies have been unafraid of targeting their enemies. Recently, a Hamas military car was targeted and videoed – the drone got its target.
This was indeed a case of he who lived by the sword, died by the sword. Was it moral (who determines the morality)? Was it within the United Nations charter of the rules of warfare (what is war today?) Was it inevitable? Was it justice (who determines the justice?) Was it fair (who determines what is fair)? These are questions Christians ponders. They are perennial questions and there will be good men and women on both sides of this ticket.
Now a water drone
Last month an unmanned watercraft code-named the "Seagull" was unveiled by Israel's 'Elbit Systems' in a demonstration that took place in the gulf of Haifa. This innovative watercraft operates autonomously and can perform a number of security related tasks, including submarine detection and underwater explosive ordinance detection and removal. Additionally, the "Seagull" can be used for patrols, electronic warfare, and underwater topographical surveys.
The vessel is 40 feet [12 m] long and has the ability to operate continuously for 96 hours, and can carry out missions in a safer and more effective manner than can be done with other manned vessels. It has an automated navigation system which enables it to navigate the seas autonomously and in compliance of international maritime law, radar, on board weapons systems, day and night vision, underwater robotic capabilities, and more.
In countering the threat posed by underwater mines, the vessel is able to locate and destroy them autonomously, without the physical involvement of a live sailor, thereby negating the risk of bodily harm or death.
Whatever you think of Drones (and their multi-faceted use such as with bush fires, finding lost trekkers, real estate and the like) they are here to stay. There are never easy answers.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 25 books, and enjoys writing. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded ‘The Gutenberg’ - the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. He and David Chang editor of Christian Today together bought the young writer ministry into fruition in 2009. In 2011 Mark established Laguna Quays Respite (Whitsundays) for missionary respite and replicated at Aldinga Beach 2016 (Adelaide) and Greens Beach Bass Straight (TAS). His ministry is honoured all these years by Christian philanthropist Mr Basil Sellers AM. He is married to Delma (44 years), with four adult married children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/dr-mark-t.html