Readers Write: Drone attacks, 'Voice of America,' and presidential leadership

Letters to the Editor for the weekly issue of December 12, 2011: One reader asks, how long until America's enemies acquire drone technology and attack the US? Another: Didn't the US abandon Hungarians to a Soviet crackdown after Voice of America broadcasts encouraged rebellion? A third reader explains: Real presidential leaders seek out people who don't agree with them.

Drones puts US at risk

Thanks for the very informative Oct. 24 cover story, "War by remote control," as it effectively illustrates the current and possible uses of drones and robots, and the far-reaching impacts each has and could have on warfare, both pro and con. It is particularly helpful to hear of the ethical questions these warfare methods and technologies raise.

Most disturbing, but unfortunately given the least coverage, is the possibility of drone technology spreading to unfriendly countries or terrorists, local or international.

For example, what limits, if any, should there be on the developers of drones such as the Canadian drone manufacturer Aeryon Labs Inc., which thankfully has "decided not to sell weaponized drones"?

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But the question remains: Are developers and manufacturers restricted in their sale of this technology, and will they be in the future? Like every other technology, won't it eventually find its way into the legal or illegal marketplace? What prevents drones from finding their way into a Mexican drug cartel?

And what about privacy rights as this technology is adapted for police use?

While drones may be helping us win a battle now, we may lose the war later if we don't think about this technology's future use and sale with more foresight and diligence.

Chuck Wattles

Alexandria, Va.

Real leaders seek opposition

I would like to respond to Allan Guelzo's commentary, "Standards for presidential leadership," in the Nov. 28 Future Focus section on leadership.

President George H.W. Bush said, "Leadership isn't just making decisions and giving orders. It's hearing all points of view before making the final decision."

Mr. Bush's statement is true. However, many presidents simply appoint their team players as White House advisers and cabinet secretaries. The team players provide no avenue for presidents to move beyond a narrow or partisan evaluation of domestic and foreign problems, such as additional options for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A broad range of opinions, even contradictory viewpoints, would require presidents to analyze recommendations before making the final decisions.

Roy Wetherington

Tifton, Ga.

Voice, not actions, of America

I just read John Hughes's Dec. 5 column, "Don't let Voice of America's broadcasts go to static."

Please enlighten me: Was it rumor, or did we leave the Hungarians out to dry when we encouraged them to revolt via Voice of America and then did nothing when the Soviets put down the revolt?

Harvey Robicheau

North Las Vegas, Nev.

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