The Facelessness of War - AP Language and Composition

Essay by SolidusHigh School, 11th gradeA, May 2007

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

In “Nothing but the Truth: Evolution of a War Machine,” Andy Arnold states that America has become a persistent war machine due to technological advances that provide a false sense of security. In “Biological Weapons,” Margaret Davidson demonstrates the power of “faceless” weapons, supporting the notion of false sense of power. Therefore, the idea that war has become faceless and inhuman, thus making it easier for leaders to make the decision to go to war, is correct. America’s evolution from face-to-face ground combat to faceless aerial and nautical attacks has removed the emotions from warfare to make it psychologically more comforting to deploy troops and put the nation in a perpetual state of war.

Like it or not, most humans are a social and emotional being. People are morally opposed to killing because they are opposed to dying. In war, killing is necessary, so America attempts to ease the pain of death and destruction by inventing machines to kill the opposition more effectively and to better protect the American soldiers.

Not all killing is the same; there is a huge difference between “personal killing” such as shooting another human being and “impersonal killing” such as pressing a button to deliver a missile into a building. The latter removes the emotional factor out of it, which pleases people’s emotions. This sense of comfort allows American leaders to repeatedly send troops to war, upholding the “perpetual war machine” that is a “threat to life and liberty” (Arnold). American is denial regarding the true dangers of wartime fighting. Citizens blindly supported the Vietnam War until they found out that “tens of thousands of American men were dying in what appeared to many to be an optional war, and American democracy rose up and said enough” (Arnold).

But who can blame Americans for overestimating the value of faceless weapons? Margaret Davidson describes biological warfare as “the poor man’s nuclear weapon.” She states, “In theory, a single gram of botulinum could kill one million people. Although “the Geneva Convention outlawed the use of biological warfare programs in 1969,” the idea that a person can be safe while causing the deaths of thousands of people is still embedded in the minds of Americans. In Iraq, the death of 10 American soldiers is bigger than the death of 10,000 Iraqis. With American technology so advanced that soldier deaths are almost regarded as freak accidents, it is no wonder that America is now waging a self-righteous “War on Terror,” which “will probably last forever” because “the enemy, without a nation or uniform, is all around us” (Arnold).

The facelessness of modern war causes “Americans to become detached from the death and destruction caused by our military.” The insensitivity of the people is seen when “a Predator drone fired Hellfire missiles and killed 18 people in Pakistan, including ‘al-Qaeda’s number two.’” The other seventeen deaths were ignored, including four Pakistani children. As Andy Arnold sternly states, “The development of unmanned killing machines is another move away from our original intent to be a peaceful nation.” Essentially, killing has become too easy and too unemotional. As a nation, America has lost sight of its original goals and is now only finding excuses to engage in combat to flex its technological muscles.

It is no wonder that leaders today are more comfortable about going to war. Unlike the Civil War, recent wars have been fought with faceless aerial and nautical attacks overseas. With the American public blind to the true horror of war, American leaders will continue to engage in a state of continual warfare, including optional conflicts. Until people are informed of the realistic risks of war and its mortal effects on both sides, American troops will continue to die in unnecessary battle.

Sources:* 2007 Practice Synthesis Prompt and Documents