Bungling life and death

TW: drone strikes/killings

While it’s astounding that US veterans have now been confirmed to be dying as a result of inadequate and delayed medical treatment from the Veterans Affairs office (VA), it’s perhaps reflective of the entire medical field in the US more than our government. In fact, poor records keeping means that we’re not entirely clear how many “never events” (extreme but often undetected mistakes) occur during surgeries, outside of the fact that the number is worryingly large.

But there is something profoundly unsettling when it comes to the power over life and death that the United States’ government (among other international forces) wields. Looking no further that the recently published description of the drone industry in Der Spiegel, it seems as though part of the problem is how deceptively applied those powers are. We’re told that the use of drones reduces casualties both among the local population of countries essentially occupied from the sky as well as among American ground troops when those are also present. Even if only anecdotally, this report challenges that – with drone operators being unable to determine who they’ve killed on the ground until its already too late and likewise often incapable of warning soldiers of threats.

(Site of suspected drone attack in Northern Pakistan in 2008, from here.)

There’s a lot of death no matter how you slice it, and the government doesn’t seem to be managing it very well.

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