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Weapons have transferred responsibility on battlefield

link Kitsana Dounglomchan

Local columnist

Thousands of years ago, if you wanted to kill someone who meant to do you harm, you had to use your hands to protect yourself.

But at some point, a creative man — or maybe a chimpanzee — picked up a rock and realized that by using this it would be an even more effective way to kill. And thus the first advancement in military technology was made.

We’ve been trying to distance and remove ourselves from the battlefield ever since.

All these advancements were leading up to the ultimate goal, which was to kill our enemies with godlike impunity.

And we’ve succeeded in this.

We can now eliminate our enemies without ever having to put ourselves in harm’s way. And what warrior wouldn’t want to gain this tactical advantage?

But what if there’s another reason for these advances? What if killing another human being is so traumatic, so troubling on the human psyche, that we’ve been trying to remove ourselves from the battlefield so we are able to better cope with ending someone’s life?

After all, when we use a weapon, we’re essentially transferring a small part of the responsibility. We might pull the trigger, but the bullet does the dirty work.

I believe, or at least I hope, that most human beings possess an innate desire not to kill their fellow man. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of the book “On Killing,” would agree.

He writes, “There can be no doubt that this resistance to killing one’s fellow man is there and that it exists as a result of a powerful combination of instinctive, rational, environmental, hereditary, cultural, and social factors.”

But with so many advances in the art of war, it’s becoming harder and harder for mankind to maintain this instinctive resistance.

What worries me the most about this, is how quickly one can become desensitized to the act.

Could this type of behavior lead to a never-ending warfare between countries? An endless loop of killing with no end in sight? One could argue that we’ve already been doing it for thousands of years. They’d be right.

But I just wish we had advanced a little further than our barbaric forefathers in this regard. We clearly haven’t. If anything we’ve gotten worse.

I’m not advocating that we lay down our weapons. Someone in the world has to wield the power; I’d rather it be us than them.

But I also think it’s important to examine the underlying reasons for why we are making these advances, and to ponder their future implications.

For the type of military technology that we use on our enemies today will one day be available to them, too. And that’s a scary thought to think about.

Kitsana Dounglomchan, a 12-year Air Force veteran, writes about his life and times for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

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