The musings of Mr Monkeysized

Monkeysizing the art of twatting someone with a rock by monkeysized

What happens when war becomes even less monkeysized? There’s an evident worry that moving from shooting up the enemy or flying over them and trying to drop a bomb on their head, to piloting a drone from a computer, might be a touch too far. This excerpt is from an excellent interview in Der Spiegel with PW Singer from the Brookings Institution

The act of going to war used to entail you taking upon great risks. You might not come home one day. You might not see your family again. Now it’s different. I heard a drone pilot explain it this way: You’re going to war for one hour, and then you get in the car and drive home, and within two minutes you’re sitting at the dinner table talking about your kids’ homework. This is a very different experience of war.

The argument is basically that things have gone too far, that by dehumanising the war experience you risk more of it without the attendant horror that keeps it in perspective. I have some sympathy for this as I am, after all, Mr Monkeysized. But then I was recently listening to three and a half hours of podcasts from Dan Carlin about the Punic Wars, and in particular the battle of Cannae. Now that was visceral – especially when Dan described some of the dozens of thousands of trapped Romans awaiting death digging holes and sticking their heads in them in the hope of suffocation rather than being chopped up by Carthaginians.

No doubt the smart-alecs who invented the bow and arrow, or the cannon, or the slingshot, or the musket, or the howitzer, or the dog-with-a-bomb-strapped-to-it, or the Avro Lancaster, or the ICBM could all be accused of the same, taking the up-close nastiness of war away from the much more primeval and monkeysized twatting someone on the head with a large rock.


My view is that war is a distinct case that does not lend itself to criticisms of being unmonkeysized. Far better, in my view, to remind oneself of the visceral nature of life and death by forcing people to kill and prepare an animal (rabbits etc…) before being allowed to eat meat. That’s where the real disconnect takes place, not in a drone attack somewhere near the Durand Line.


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