From the June issue of Reason magazine, written by managing editor Katherine Mangu-Ward: ------------------------------ Nicknamed the "Nintendo Medal," this decoration (accompanied by illustration) would go to troops who fight America's wars from behind computer consoles. The February debut of the Distinguished Warfare Medal saw former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praising drone operators for their contributions and noting that "modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cyber systems, have changed the way wars are fought. And they've given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar." But on March 12, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel temporarily halted the production of the medal, after public outcry. The new bauble would outrank both the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, prompting protests from veterans groups, a petition to the White House, and a bill to lower the medal's ranking, sponsored by Representative Duncan Hunter (Republican, California). The eagerness to award medals to drone operators and other cyberwarriors--which would also speed their promotions through the ranks--illustrates the direction the U.S. military hopes it is heading: more drones, fewer grunts.----------------------------- Reason is a libertarian journal. Libertarians are neither Democrats nor Republicans, neither right nor left, generally taking conservative positions on fiscal issues but liberal positions on social issues. In general they favor smaller government because large governments are slow-moving, inefficient, expensive, focused on their own internal workings, and often incompetent, but they favor legislation that protects or expands personal freedom such as repealing the laws against drug use. Libertarians believe that every country should mind its own bloody business. They oppose wars of opportunity and generally only support combat when the country is under threat of attack by a foreign military force, not stateless terrorists with little or no constituency. I can't tell if Mangu-Ward is praising the cyberwarriors. Perhaps she regards them as a more nimble force for fighting terrorism than a batallion of Marines, and of course since they're cheaper to deploy than a batallion of Marines and require no death benefits to grieving families if they're shot down in combat, they would appeal to a libertarian's economic sensibilities. However, if so, she ignores the fact that drone warfare is criminally imprecise. On the average, for every person killed by a drone who might reasonably be suspected of being an enemy combatant, nearly thirty innocent civilians are killed. This isn't "collateral damage," it's a complete disregard for human life. I don't think anyone should be awarded a medal for fighting this way.