Military Technology: It’s Only Cool Till You’re On The Receiving End

Twitter and the news this morning are full of excitement about the ultra-cool new heatseeking missile technology being used to attack Libyan Government tanks. Apparently, the French are setting new standards in the science of killing people by remote control.

Plenty of people support the Western intervention in the Libyan civil war. I don’t, partly because I think it’s got a lot more to do with Libya’s ability to produce high-quality crude oil than any concern over the democratic aspirations of the Libyan people, and partly because most such interventions don’t end well for the people they are supposedly trying to help.

But, whether or not people support the intervention – and I acknowledge that there are legitimate grounds for such support – I am immensely frustrated by the way in which ‘war porn’ continues to fascinate people who should know better. It happened in the first US-Iraq war; it happened in the second; and now it’s happening again.

This isn’t a video game. When a missile or a shell hits a tank, the people in that tank are torn apart or burnt alive. And they are people with no lesser or greater right to life than anyone else. So, if you feel tempted to celebrate that cool piece of military technology, imagine how it would be if the priorities of those who launch such attacks changed, and you found yourself on the receiving end.