The least progressive part of Der Derian’s argument is the fact that really nothing he says is all that new. People have always distanced themselves from war. Children have always played wargames. At least as far as I know. So when he talks about simulation games making it to the shelves almost as soon as the military can pump them out, we have to realize that these kinds of things have always been going on(91).
But, one might argue, are we not desensitizing ourselves even further by making it all simulacra? I argue no, not anymore than has already been done for thousands of years. At least as far as I know. Why is playing Doom any more frightening than training soldiers to call them “enemy” and not “human being”?
There have always been generals in the bunk house just off the field. This kind of distance is essential. It is a necessary element in the so-called art of war.
It’s risky for me to say all these things because it makes me look like some kind of death monhering hawk. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. I see the kind of massive death that Der Derian is pointing out as being an unbelievable human liability. I find it at least as disturbing as anyone. But I don’t have ready answers for it, and I certainly don’t see the value in just smugly writing it off as if its all being controlled by a bunch of morons. Don’t mistake what I’m saying as a general trust in the good intentions of humanity, I’m not that credulous, but I do believe that a view of problems like war and security are more complex than any token liberal jeering can solve.