Saturday, April 21, 2007

Drones, Reapers, and Dinner with the Wife

NPR has a particular fondness for the weaponry of war and domination - both lethal and non-lethal - but yesterday's commercial for the US military's brand new "hunter-killer" drone, The Reaper, sets a new standard.

Opening the report Siegel tells us that The Predator - the smaller predecessor to The Reaper - "has emerged as the one of the most useful and controversial weapons in the US military's arsenal." However, what follows is Mary Louise Kelly's homage to this new killing machine with barely a mention of why it might be controversial. Consider the following comments that Kelly makes:
  • "...this [heavier payload capacity] is the key advantage a Reaper can offer..."
  • "...a huge step forward for the military."
  • "It can hover for hours waiting for a terrorist target to appear."
  • "It can carry missiles at the same time; if you don’t want to level a whole building, but just take out - say - a single sniper sitting in a third story window."
  • " American lives are risked."
You have to hear the clip about "leveling a whole building" to appreciate how crass and flip her tone is - as if she were talking about taking out the trash instead of trashing people and their buildings.

So when do we hear about the controversy? Kelly briefly notes that "critics have accused The Predator of carrying out assassinations, and asked whether terror suspects who pose no immediate threat shouldn’t be arrested, rather than blown up..." For a thoughtful response we get Lt. Colonel Johnathon Green assuring us that "as long as you have the legal authority and the moral high ground that’s what we’re out there to do is protect our country in the war on terror." Yes Colonel we really have established legality and the moral high ground in Iraq!

With that problem taken care of we hear from Maj. John Chesser, who is training to operate The Reaper. Compared to flying real jets with bombs, he says that The Reaper "may not be as sexy, but we’re definitely going to get the mission done." Oh yea, bombing is so sexy. But Kelly notes there is an upside; since The Reaper is piloted remotely from the United States, after a shift "you get to go home and eat dinner with your wife."


Anonymous said...

Man, you've got a strong constitution to be able to listen to that shit.

Owl said...

Reminds me of the MASH episode where Sidney Freedman observes how the surgeons handle the cocky bomber pilot.

Anonymous said...

I started yelling back at NPR when I noticed not only the right-shift in reporting, but the number of defense contractors being touted as "sponsors." Reports like this one are nauseating.