Kevin Kallaugher touches on one of our more disturbing, but disturbingly unfocused, issues.
And he does it very effectively, because a major part of the drone controversy is less the drones themselves and more the way their use is, so to speak, flying below the radar.
That is, you can't expect every drone strike to be announced, any more than, in Vietnam, you would expect a press release every time there was a sweep through a village in search of insurgents, or every time there was an air strike against an enemy anti-aircraft gun emplacement.
At the same time, you expect some accounting for times when the sweep of a village turned into My Lai, or when the gun emplacement was next to a hospital.
On the one hand, war is hell, boys, and it's probably just as well we don't know everything that goes on in a war.
On the other hand is the idea that, if we knew more about what goes on in wars, maybe we'd stop having them.
And the counter to that is that people who have seen these things up close have, for the most part, not been shocked into a rejection of violence.
One of the great revelations my father brought back from World War II came after the liberation of Dachau. He said that, intellectually, he would expect that the surviving Jews would have emerged from the horrors of that experience as committed pacifists, dedicated to an end to all hatred and violence.
But what they wanted was for the Americans to give them guns so they could go down into the village and kill some Germans, which, once he thought it over, made perfect, but bitterly disappointing, sense.
And Gandhi may have said that "an eye for an eye and the whole world is blind," but he was gunned down, and not by a Muslim but by one of his fellow Hindus.
Universal pacifism ain't gonna happen, and if you can't accept that, then Jack Nicholson was right: "You can't handle the truth."
But that doesn't mean we shouldn't question, and that brings us back to the question of focus. Why the focus on drones?
That is, if, instead of sending in a drone that accidentally missed the meeting of enemy officers and took out the wedding next door, we had sent a B-52 and a load of bombs, would drone strikes, however imperfect, start looking better?
Sure. But is that the issue?
During Vietnam, the argument was "they shouldn't have put the anti-aircraft guns on the hospital roof."
But the result wasn't that the North Vietnamese people insisted gun emplacements be located away from the city.
In fact, as far as shaping public opinion goes, the result of bombing Hanoi was roughly what you might expect if you were to fly a couple of airplanes into the Twin Towers.
Or what you would get by blowing up a wedding. Intentionally or as collateral damage or even "whoops."
War has changed. War is no longer about territory and generals and kings. It is about hearts and minds, and the wisecrack among generals in Vietnam was "When you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow."
Which is proof they were still trying to fight the last war, and failing.
We didn't firebomb Dresden in World War II in an attempt to make the German people like us, but because our strategy was total, unconditional surrender. As with Sherman's March to the Sea, the intention was to bludgeon the enemy -- that is, the central government -- into total submission.
And we evidently didn't learn much in Vietnam, because we still seem to believe we can drop a bomb so precise that it only hits an ideology while leaving people's hearts and minds untouched.
The strategy of "surgical strikes" really began during the first Gulf War, when we watched smart bombs targeting specific vehicles, specific bridges, specific factories.
Let us remember, though, how the first Gulf War ended: We reached a point where the bulk of fighting was no longer out in the desert where you could be somewhat surgical.
At which point Bush the Smarter listened to his allies instead of his chickenhawks and recognized that we'd done what we could and that further actions would lead to ... well, we've now seen what it would lead to, and it didn't involve people throwing flowers and candy at us after all, did it?
What's more, we're now seeing evidence that the ability to use "surgical" drones is turning into a compulsion to use them, "like one of these fellows that, when he enters the confines of a tavern, claps me his sword upon the table and says ‘God send me no need of thee!’ and by the operation of the second cup draws him on the drawer, when indeed there is no need."
Note that the question asked in KAL's cartoon is not about the morality of using drones in war. It's about the morality of using them without rules.
We need an answer to that, that doesn't involve a cartoon drone strike, or an official silence.
Because, though war may change, even Hell needs rules.
Meanwhile, here's some information that may also lack surgical precision but is better than misinformation, dysinformation or no information at all.