Since President Obama has made drone operators "increasingly important," according to the New York Times, it's only right that the folks fulfilling his Kill Wish List should be given some long-overdue recognition. Whether Obama and his successors will have the chutzpah to give out Medals of Honor to joystick operators in televised East Room ceremonies remains to be seen, however. It seems highly doubtful, given that the president has steadfastly refused to divulge the names and details of the "enemy combatants" he chooses to obliterate in this highly secretive program. The fact that up to 90 percent of the drone targets turn out to be innocent civilians might make the award ceremonies a bit fuzzy too.
Instead of his eyes welling up and overflowing with tears over wedding parties turned into funerals by his predator drones, Obama would probably have to be satisfied with getting just a little misty... at the very least, he'll play Misty for us.
Michael S. Schmidt writes that computer geeks who launch cyber-attacks will also be eligible for the bright shiny medals.
Ousted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel scrapped the first plans for the drone and cyber medals, but now that he's gone, the proposal to honor the office-based warriors of Obama's "smart" foreign policy during his last year in office is gaining new life.“It’s way past time,” said David A. Deptula, a retired three-star Air Force general who pushed the military to embrace drones. “People should be acknowledged and rewarded for their contributions to accomplishing security objections regardless of where they are located.”Current and former military officials had been deeply divided about whether to recognize the drone pilots. An initial Pentagon plan in 2013 to honor them with a “Distinguished Warfare Medal” was criticized by some veterans’ groups, which feared that the award would rank higher than combat medals like the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Nothing will tamp down anger like the sight of Obama awarding medals to remote-control geeks who turn Muslims into pink mist at his explicit direction, right?“As the impact of remote operations on combat continues to increase, the necessity of ensuring those actions are distinctly recognized grows,” said a Pentagon document outlining changes to how the military gives awards and other decorations.The use of drones has been widely credited with diminishing Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. But civilians have also died in drone attacks, fueling anger toward the United States among Muslims across the Middle East.
The Pentagon also plans to award more medals to soldiers who are still alive, so that they might at least get some personal enjoyment from them.
And, given that the wars are now permanent, medal recipients will no longer have to wait as long before collecting their shiny objects from the Commander in Chief. It will be a virtual assemblyline of medals, ribbons and plaques.
As war is modernized, so must its rewards be modernized. When all else (like public support) fails, bring out the symbols and put on a show. CNN, Wall Street investors, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley will love it and even help direct it.
Just as the Oscars help sell movie tickets, just as the movies in their turn help sell video game tie-ins, just as the video games help hone the skills of the drone and cyber-espionage geeks of the future, so too will military awards shows and brand new acting categories help to further enrich the war profiteers.
They'll cry for American children killed by guns, but revel in the billions of dollars in lethal weaponry that they manufacture, sell and deploy against other people's children, all around the world.