Question 12

How would your views about war, politics and the role of the military change if all future conflicts were fought by armies of robots (that is to say, if all nations agreed to conduct wars exclusively with machines so that human casualties would be virtually non-existent)?

I have honestly been sitting here staring at this question for 30 minutes trying to figure out an answer. On the surface, I think, “OK, maybe war’s fine now, because the problem of killing innocent human beings is eliminated.”

But then I started to realize that there are two big problems with this question.

First off, even if robots took the place of soliders, the claim that casualties would be “virtually non-existent” is untrue. You’re fighting with robots, sure, but they’re still going to be fighting somewhere around people, unless you stick them in a remote area and say, “OK, last robot standing’s country wins.” So even with robots, you’re still going to have civilian casualties, which probably means people will still have a problem with war.

But even if you can get past that issue and say you’re OK with civilian casualties, there’s still the underlying question that’s at the crux of all this: If you’re against war, is it because it kills innocent soldiers, or is it because, like we were taught in Kindergarten, it’s bad to fight with people?

I know it’s impossible for everyone to always get along. And I know it’s necessary to have a military, etc. for the safety, security and well-being of the country. But I also think it’s stupid to get involved in other people’s problems and fights (the Kindergarten lesson was to not be nosy), unless someone is being unnecessarily harassed or bullied, and that bombing someone just because they bombed you won’t solve much (Kindergarten again — really, do we need schooling past age five?). Wars only end because one side gets so worn down that they surrender, or because a ruler is captured or killed, and after all that, there’s still talking to  be done and agreements to be made. It seems like all that fighting and destruction in the middle really does nothing but kill people and piss people off; the war part doesn’t actually create a solution.

Side note: I would like to take this moment to point out that I’m my opinions are irrelevant when discussing wars that begin to take down a no-good ruler or regime (see: harassment and bullying, and getting involved). In that case, if war is the only option for freedom, then you really don’t have much of a choice, do you?

So, no, I don’t think my view of war would change if we were using robots. If anything, I think it makes war seem even more ridiculous and scary because all you have is a bunch of machines with weapons running around.

But I feel like I could go around in circles trying to figure out an answer to this one, and it’s even harder because I guess I don’t necessarily have a black-and-white view of war (or of many things). This is probably the worst-formed argument ever. It’s hard because we’ve never had the opportunity to fight with robots, so I don’t think many people have really thought about what that would mean.

But I know there are those of you floating around out there who have well-formed opinions about war, politics, etc., so I’m especially curious what you think. Tear me down, poke holes in this theory, because you’re probably right, and I’ll probably agree with you.

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3 thoughts on “Question 12

  1. My view of war would be totally different. I don’t exactly advocate or condone war either but I think you’re missing the most important point here.

    Let me put it this way. Why do we have war? Someone else can probably put this more eloquently than I can but my response would be because one group of people is doing something so indefensible and ridiculous that from the perspective of another group change is absolutely necessary. How can this change be brought about? Well if all else fails, the latter group must threaten what matters most to the former group: its people. You have to be fair about that though too. In matters like this it’s obviously more ethical to declare war and have the two militarys settle this dispute than to attack a groups’ civilians. My point in all this is that if you remove the threat of mas human casualties from military combat, you remove the threat against any groups most coveted resource so there’s no real pressure to change.

    It’s kind of like if the trading countries got together and said, you know what, lets only exchange goods for monopoly money now. Forget about the currency of our nations. Monopoly money is still money, right? The problem of course is monopoly money isn’t actually real money so at the end of the day, you’re really left with nothing.

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    • I read that through five or six times before I think I got it. I agree with the “why do we have war” part, but you lost me at the “threatening the people” part. I guess at it’s most basic, war threatens the people — but, when you think about it, does it do much except threaten those that are fighting it? The US is in a war now, but the only people that are really affected are the soldiers and their families and friends. And even then, with the exception of the soldiers, no one’s life is really in danger. Obviously that’s a little different for the people in the area where the war is being fought, and I suppose you could argue that, with the threat of terror attacks, any of our lives could be in danger…but that’s really complex, and I’m having trouble keeping this straight as it is. Also, I feel like (and this is going to sound callous and cold, and I don’t mean it to be that way, but it’s sort of my line of thought) if you join the military, especially now, you sort of expect that you’re going to go into combat, so…I don’t know, that doesn’t make it any better if someone dies, but it’s more expected/more acceptable (I say that in the most basic of ways, really just meaning that it’s less of a shock…see, even that sounds bad. Screw it, you know what I mean) than if non-fighting civilians die in the course of the war.

      And now that I re-read that, I don’t know if it means I’d be OK with war if we were using robots or not. Oh boy…

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