The Robot Proxy War
Bush's man-hunting machines—and Obama's.
Many things will change when Obama is elected. Other things will stay the same. And then there's a third category: things that are profoundly changing, and will continue to change, regardless of who's president. One of these things is anti-terrorist warfare. The war on terror is becoming a war between madmen and machines. A few years ago, jihadis had the upper hand because they didn't mind killing or dying. Now they're being blown away by remote-control pilots who can't be killed. The machines in the sky don't bleed, and they spare us the difficulties of an official troop presence. Pakistan has become the world's first robot proxy war.
There was a Democratic president before Bush. Acting on intelligence, Bill Clinton sent missiles into Afghanistan to kill Osama Bin Laden, and he didn't ask permission first. Under similar circumstances in Pakistan, Obama would do the same thing. The difference is that Clinton had to fire his missiles from thousands of miles away. Obama can do it from overhead.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.