In a detour from criminal-justice issues at home, here’s a voice worth listening to about an issue that will soon affect us at home and abroad. In fact, the use of “unmanned aerial vehicles,” or drones, already affects us abroad because we use them abroad (of course), and it affects us now in the way people around the world perceive American power, whether we know it or not. That’s what this essay is about, but the proliferation of drones at home—and a looming future in which they fill our domestic skies—is something worth talking about too.
I don’t presume to have the answers, and I don’t substitute my judgment for that of the people who defend us. The world can be a dangerous place, and we’re not wrong in principle to use superior technology to protect us when it’s available. Above all, to be sure, we will protect this house. But as we wage war overseas, we should give ear to all voices that care about our national interest, especially when it belongs to a former UAV analyst who knows of what she speaks. We may also consider that most advances in human progress, like democracy, have moved us in the direction of more peace, not less, and that, ultimately, the only war we can win in the end—and the only one worth winning—is the one of superior ideas and values, not superior force.