The Drone as "deus ex machina"
The "deus ex machina" is a literary device used by fiction writers who, usually by accident, have painted their plot into a seemingly hopeless corner. Even the great Greek playwright, Thucydides, sometimes had to use a crane (machina) to drop onto the stage an unexpected power, such as a Greek God (Deus) who would, in the process of rescuing the good and/or punishing the bad, resolve the, otherwise, hopeless situation.
Now, fast forward from ancient Greece to the 21st Century and to the advent of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), popularly referred to as drones. Experts say, by 2020, the drone industry will be a $127 billion-dollar enterprise. By 2020, the FAA expects over 2.7 million drones to be in commercial and private use. By February of this year, over 350,000 drones were registered with the FAA. In Switzerland, commercial drones are already being used to deliver needed supplies to isolated Alpine villages.
But drones can also be used for less benign purposes. For example: Lets say, Mr. Jones does not like the party noises emanating from Mr. Smiths backyard swimming pool. In the wee hours, Jones has his drone drop some algae into Smiths pool, turning the water a slimy green. Or, a demented Mr. Jones could have his drone drop poison into Smiths unattended cocktail glass, i.e. murder-by-drone. Or, lets say you are a high-profile government official in the war against political Islam. If the radical Islamists can fly huge big airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, using a drone for targeted assassinations of U.S. officials is well within their range of skills.
Then too, lets say you are an American President who does not want to add to the prison population at Gitmo (AKA Sandals-by-the Sea where the detainees enjoy a custom-made soccer field, four Halal meals-a-day, imported dates, honey, and roasted meats (no pork) which can be worked off using treadmills and stationary bikes. Plus, detainees have local Wi-Fi, Al-Jazeera TV, art classes, and a 10,000-volume library, to include DVDs and computer games.) Even so, most detainees want to return to the squalor of the Middle East.
Mr. Obama, rather than capturing terrorists for their intelligence value , has been using drones to kill the terrorists on-the-spot, skipping all that messy time and expense of housing them at Gitmo. Viola! A modern-day "deus ex machina."
By now, about 77-percent of the original Gitmo population has been released. Unfortunately, over 20-percent of the former detainees are known to have rejoined the battle against U.S. forces. But one wonders what the freed 80-percent think about their all-inclusive Sandals-by-the-Sea captivity?
Club Gitmo aside, the reality is that drones are here to stay. We can no longer look up into the U.S. skies and only fear death-by-meteor. If your Christmas present "deus ex machina" weighs more than .55 pounds, pay the $5.00 fee, get it registered, or risk a $27,500 fine.
Moreover, even non-commercial drone pilots would be well-advised to take the free FAA commercial drone pilot exam and use that knowledge to lower the risk of doing something stupid like downing a "real" airplane. See:www.faa.gov/uas/. Meanwhile, there is this suspicious looking hummingbird that keeps looking in our windows. Even in December...
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the Army Language School, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2016. William Hamilton.
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