Sticks and Stones? Or Drones?

MQ-9 Reaper. drones

A fully armed MQ-9 Reaper taxis down an Afghanistan runway. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

Are drones leading us to war?

MQ-1. Drones

Launching an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle in Iraq. Captain Koll, the pilot, and Airman Eulo, the sensor operator, will handle the Predator in a radius of approximately 25 miles around the base before handing it off to personnel stationed in the United States to continue its mission. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Steve Horton)

Albert Einstein once said that he didn’t know how World War III would be fought, though he did know about World War IV – with sticks and stones. He was warning us that our escalation of nuclear weapons would lead to a war where very little – and very few – were left standing. Today, what would Einstein think of the recent escalation of combat drones?

Defense planners argue that drones save lives, sparing those who would’ve had to fight the enemy face to face, or gun-sight to gun-sight. Now, with drones, or UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), they’ve removed the human factor. War-fighters are safely out of the battle, and in many cases, out of the country.

Targets are destroyed by remote control.

Critics, on the other hand, argue that drones make it too easy to kill – more like a computer game than actual killing. They say it will desensitize us to the horrors of war.

At present the U.S. is the clear leader in this technology with the Predator, Reaper and Global Hawk. China is catching up fast, however. The PRC unveiled their new line of drones during a recent military parade and expo.

China drones. Wing Loong.

UAV Wing Loong (People’s Republic of China) produced by AVIC, the world’s largest drone production company.

Jane’s Defense Weekly reports that the Chinese Wing Loong II has a range of over 2100 miles and carries laser-guided bombs and missiles. Russia, Iran, Japan and Israel all manufacture their own drones and soon many more nations will join the ranks. With all sides employing this inexpensive technology, is there a risk that war will become too removed, too easy?

drones. star trek

A Taste of Armageddon – Star Trek (Photo © 1966 CBS Photo Archive)

Remember that Star Trek episode where the dirty business of war was sanitized? Where citizens had to report to killing booths? War was clean and efficient. It was also never-ending. Remember Captain Kirk (again violating the prime directive) insisting that facing the ugliness of war was essential in preventing it? It made sense when he said it, didn’t it?

Author’s Note: Fully autonomous drones are already here, and so is the ‘awesome’ weaponry launched from them. It’s not a matter of time whether drones fight battles on their own, but a question of will. Will we?

If we are to heed the advice of an Einstein, we’re going to need a Captain Kirk to straighten us out, as well. Otherwise, the last man standing might very well be a drone.

Rob Reilly

Tokyo, Japan

Learn more about it:

Drone Regulations Ahead: NASA and UK developing UAV ‘Traffic System’

UAVs in the U.S. Military at Wikipedia.

DARPA website.

Join us in the discussion! Comment, Share on Facebook and find us on Twitter, hashtag #DMTalk!

Editor’s Note: The ideas and opinions expressed are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily those of Art Bell, Dark Matter News or Dark Matter Digital Networks. 

Rob Reilly

Rob Reilly

Star of Stage, Screen and Radioactivity! Rob Reilly (aka Rye Dano) works as an actor, writer, director, student, teacher, anthropologist and Gentleman-Scoundrel based in Tokyo, Japan - All of which he loves doing with as little effort as possible. Movie host at The Cinemated Man ( and currently a contributor for Dark Matter News on the one and only Art Bell's Midnight in the Desert.

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3 Responses

  1. Peter Paluska says:

    Nice writing! It feels like you say a lot very well in such a small piece. Well done.

  2. Michael Waters says:

    The trouble with relying on amazing technology is that the OTHER GUYS end up matching us, which in turn requires us to invent MORE amazing technology, which the OTHER GUYS AGAIN match, forcing us to in turn match, which then the OTHER GUYS AGAIN match,………………etc etc.

    Here’s the unacknowledged truth: humankind needs to learn how to get along. Absent such learning, all the technology in the world can’t protect us for very long.

    Gimme wisdom, not fancy high tech.

  1. September 25, 2015

    […] Albert Einstein once said he didn’t know how World War III would be fought – but he did know about World War IV: with sticks and stones. Will it be drones instead? Join us as contributor Rob Reilly explores the development of these modern weapons. Read More on Dark Matter News. #DarkMatterNews #ArtBell #MITD #DMTalk […]

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