When they were first invented war planes were terrifying, not just in the sense we’re used to (i.e. the fear of a bomb being dropped) but the very concept of being able to rise above one’s enemy and strike without recourse. H.G. Wells, renown for his sci-fi and speculative fiction, wrote the seminal novel of the dread air war, 1907’s The War in the Air. Here all the themes of the warplane fear is on display: the incomprehensible weapons, unending waves of devastating strategic bombing, and so on. And just like the other fears about deadly airships or German air-terror in New York, it was mostly untrue.
In the modern context, opposition to specific technologies of war usually takes the form of an appeal to one of two things — a previous, incredibly brutal conflict (World War 2, Vietnam, never for some reason Korea), or science fiction. Yet the laser-like focus on technology, whether it’s airships or drones, misses the far more important element in play — the bureaucracies, politics, and policies that make up the decision to wage a war and how to best fight it.