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'The sword itself incites to violence.' How the ubiquity of drones will provoke new wars

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 12th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

World War III has long been the subject of speculation, from what weapons it will include and its likely outcome. Now, as the world finds new ways to militarize, new World War III scenarios are being contemplated that involve an entirely new weapon, and are entirely more likely.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Many Americans think that drone aircraft are an advance enjoyed exclusively by the United States. They're wrong. Today, the number of nations using drone aircraft for various purposes has risen to 87. In addition to nations such as China, Syria, and Iran, non-state actors such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and possible al Qaeda itself, are pioneering drones for terror use.

For the moment, only the United States, Israel, and Great Britain enjoy weaponized drones. This will change in the next few years as countries such as Iran and China develop weapons-capable drones of their own. China has already indicated that they are producing weaponized drones for sale to other countries.

In addition to various nations using drones, the non-state actors are also noteworthy. Colleges and universities, as well as law-enforcement entities are already using them for a wide variety of purposes. While these may be mostly benevolent, their proliferation in these sectors suggests that widespread use by other agencies is imminent. Also, as the number of personnel with operating expertise becomes common, it becomes easier for smaller entities, such as al Qaeda, to recruit talent for their own programs.

In short, it is only a matter of time before the allied monopoly on weaponized drones is shattered. What will these other states do with their drones? The United States uses their drones to spy on adversaries and to kill with virtual impunity. It's easy to imagine other nations doing the same and citing U.S. disregard for sovereignty as their casus belli.

Terrorists will strike with even less excuse and greater readiness.

Already, drones may be provoking conflicts as yet unimagined. China is using drones to monitor Japanese activity near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Japan has threatened to shoot down the drones.

India and Pakistan may eventually use drones to monitor one another. One nation may be tempted to strike a "terror target" within the other's borders, thereby sparking a conflict between two nuclear-armed nations. How might that end? Not with merrymaking, you can be sure.

To maintain its superiority, the U.S. is already hard at work on the next generation of drone aircraft. The next American drones are expected to be stealthy, and to have weapons capability, ready to launch smaller versions of modern weapons. Smaller weapons means more munitions or smaller size, as designers see fit.

The drone genie is already out of the bottle and will not be going back inside. As drones become cheap and powerful, the day approaches that the tiny craft will provoke tensions and possibly war between nations or between terrorists and their victims.

We would do well to recall Homer's line, "the sword itself incites to violence."

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