I will state it upfront: I am not a pacifist; nor do I beat the drums of war.
Killing in our personal lives is almost never necessary; however, things are different on the global scale. The difference lies in the fact that most of us (that is, people likely to spend their time reading a blog, and not just trying to survive) live in democratic societies, or at least societies with the rule of law.
This is not the case for many of the 7 billion of us. What is the result when you have groups of humans, often guided by ancient texts which they cannot read, living in isolated societies lacking the rule of law? In a word: racism. Often, extreme racism. It is a sad fact that there is a vestigial quality of our human mind that wants to create an us-them dichotomy, with “us” being good and “them” being evil. I say vestigial because, of course, at one time this would have been extremely useful. Encountering a random group of humans in prehistoric times was a dangerous endeavor.
However, nowadays, the desire to segregate your in-group from others is very harmful for two reasons. First, it prevents trade and therefore stymies development of the isolated group. Second, and more importantly for this discussion, it creates racist beliefs that are continuously reinforced by the other members within the in-group. Not interacting in any way (aside from war) with an out-group will never allow the in-group members to question their beliefs, and in fact, the interaction through war will only confirm many of their beliefs.
Another vestigial aspect of the human mind is the susceptibility of children to incorrect or even immoral beliefs. It seems that there is something in our minds as children that says, “Believe older people, and keep those beliefs for the rest of your life. Further, hate people who question those beliefs.”
We are products of evolution and evolution is an imperfect process. We can always be better. Unfortunately, it seems, we are stuck with the mildly barbaric minds that we are born with. Of course, reason allows us to overcome these shortfalls. People living in the mountains of Afghanistan, unfortunately for us and them, will never have access to such an advanced education that will allow them to question their in-group beliefs. Many of them will be lucky if they learn to read.
So, considering this, we come to a sad result. Some peoples’ minds are so polluted with dangerous ideas that they need to be killed. It’s a shocking statement, but it’s true. You will never convince a Taliban foot-soldier that his beliefs are misguided and that you have a better way to live. If you think you can do this, you are deluding yourself. This is especially sad because these people did not choose to be born in the mountains of Afghanistan, but their beliefs, alas, are still dangerous to the rest of us.
Imprisoning these people is a possibility, too. I’ll admit this. However, in many areas where these people live, civilization has not effectively created safe-havens from which to launch police raids. Because of this, it would be impractical and extremely costly to catch each of these people one by one.
Therefore, the only option available is what President Obama has been using on an unprecedented scale: drone strikes.
To drone or not to drone? Definitely, drone.