As I handed our drone leaflet to a quite handsome young man, he stopped and asked why were we against drones in New York City. I commented that we do not need that level of surveillance and the opportunity for misuse against peaceful demonstrations among other things could not be discounted. He said, but drones can save lives. They can spot bombs in a backpack on the street. Shouldn’t we want that kind of technology protecting us. I replied, that I didn’t think drones could do that. And he replied that he knew they could….so I asked him why.
He commented that he had spent two tours in Afghanistan and had actually controlled drones as part of his assignment. He further commented that drones saved US lives there. He showed me the black bracelet he wore in honor of his colleague who had been killed there, he said saving his life. And, I thanked him for his service and was sorry about the loss of his colleagues.
The conversation shifted to the use of drones in Pakistan and Yemen and I referred to the deaths of thousands of civilians including children and women. He said he believed these were justified casualties of war as terrorists were killed. He asked me, would I rather he be on the ground fighting, possibly dying, or those terrorists in one of those countries. I said I don’t want any more deaths among US soldiers or any others in any country. I asked him, who was profiting from these wars….not the soldiers, nor the American people who pay taxes, but the corporations that supply the weapons of war and continue to need wars to make such profits. He agreed to this, but felt that without the military terrorists would destroy our country. I commented that we do need a national military, but that there are other and better ways to protect ourselves. He then said, well, what about WWII….did I think that war was necessary to stop Hitler. And I said no, that there had been many opportunities that might have stopped the events from unfolding as they did, but were not applied. At that point, I really didn’t want to go down that road, but rather wanted to introduce him to Nick but he just shook his head and said we disagreed and walked off. But he kept the leaflet.
I have to say that I was a bit upset afterwards, thinking what could I have suggested he read on these issues….and of course what more could have been said or what could have been said better. I wished I had Medea’s book on Drones with me to pull out (next time will have it in my bag).
Photo: Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade