Traditional definitions of valor don’t always account for the practitioners of advanced war-fighting tactics.
Without the enemy’s reciprocal ability to kill, war becomes a particularly brutal form of martial law.
Source: Drones, Valor, and the Future of the Military – The Atlantic
Hasn’t war always been that?
Certainly at some level(s), yes. But logistics challenges, local terrain/survival knowledge, and firearms all provided some aspects of levelling the battlefield — the kind of levelling that permitted the idea of “nation state borders” to exist even conceptually. That relative levelling (e.g. the infeasible logistics of Romania getting invaded and conquered by China in 1800, the financial and human costs of war even in victory) was quite shaken up with the advent of nuclear weapons, and I think they are getting shaken up again by remote warfare capabilities.
The American people were appalled by the Vietnam war and heavily protested it. They protested the Iraq war but mostly forgot about it after a few years. How could a war conducted exclusively remotely and perhaps a few hundred special operations soldiers have anything close to the same domestic impact as a war with significant citizen participation and casualty figures? Can a civilian population practically be mobilized to risk their personal safety to protest a foreign war that directly impacts only their wallets, not their children’s/communities’ lives?
And, like nuclear weapons, planetary-scale deployment of risk-free remote warfare capabilities will belong to relatively few nations (although local deployment will probably become commonplace).
In some ways, it seems like the post-modern incarnation of the proxy war — use armed drones and other remote weaponry instead of funding and supplying an intermediate nation or non-state actor.