Richard Shewmaker: Don't blame drones


Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 5:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 5:10 p.m.

Every time a few innocent civilians die in Afghanistan or Yemen in a drone attack on terrorists, the event becomes front-page news and triggers a cascade of anti-drone protests. But the front-page attention illustrates that drones actually help make the inherently inhumane practice of war less so.

Review the history of wars. Civilians have always died in wars. The problem reached a climax in World War II when an estimated 30 million civilians died while there were more than the 25 million military fatalities.

The allied bombings of Germany and Italy leveled whole cities and the war culminated in the terroristic use of the atomic bomb to virtually vaporize two Japanese cities. And all this was carried out by those whom Tom Brokaw has labeled the greatest generation.

If the Allies had possessed drones, smart bombs and cruise missiles, they could have identified and precision-targeted Axis military assets to minimize civilian deaths and the destruction of treasured cathedrals, monuments and museums. They could have won the war with fewer military casualties as well.

Yes, drone attacks often kill civilians and that is tragic. But let’s strive to end war, not condemn pilotless aircraft.

Richard Shewmaker lives in Gainesville.

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