"Eye In The Sky" Weighs The Ethics Of Drone Strikes

"Eye In The Sky" Weighs The Ethics Of Drone Strikes

A review of the new film.

For those of us who have never been in the military, war films paint a very specific picture of what military operations are like. Generals barking orders as heavily armed soldiers rush in. Gunshots, explosions, and charges into battle are the norm. Not the case with “Eye in the Sky,” where most of our soldiers sit behind desks and stare at video feeds.

Drone warfare is a hotly debated topic. However, it’s also the sort of topic that is very easy to take sides on without really having any knowledge of said topic. That is not to say that one should be gathering all their information from this film, but the film does the job of allowing the average civilian a more intimate viewing of such warfare, of the people behind drone strikes and of the people who are being affected.

The operation that plays out is simultaneously familiar and foreign. There’s an inevitability to the events taking place, and whether that is from my cursory understanding of how war works or from the tension created in the film I can’t say, but it is likely a combination of both. It is because of viewers vague knowledge of war that the film is so effective. Every line doesn’t have to be drawn; viewers can interpret so much.

Especially in characterization, there is little need to give detailed backstories. Characters' reactions are completely human and fit within what a viewer would expect of someone in each character’s respective positions. But the film isn’t really about the characters -- at least, not the characters as individuals.

As the operation proceeds, there’s an awareness that it has taken place a thousand times before and will take place a thousand more times, and thus every character represents a thousand other people in that same position. And yet, it’s easy to forget this and get caught up in the present story, to forget the big picture, because this story, like all war stories, is inherently human.

Just as the characters can’t help but care about the young girl caught in the crossfire even though they know nothing about her, so do we, the viewers. We just inherently care about the characters without knowing much about them. While a film like “Spotlight” struggled to attain real character investment with its sketchily drawn characters, “Eye in the Sky” succeeds, perhaps really only because there is so much more focus on the civilians, the unknowing victims, going about their daily business with no knowledge that they are entangled in a military operation.

As much as the emotional state of the officers is important, both to the outcome of the mission and to the viewer on a human level, it is the young girl Alia (Aisha Takow) and Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi), essentially the only two non-terrorist characters in danger of losing their lives, that the viewer is truly concerned for. It’s an odd way to see warfare with people behind desks, but it is an actuality. The idea that we are truly concerned with one life, the collateral damage, instead of a whole army is a depiction of the shifting way that war is conducted, but it also benefits the discussion of ethics, which is really the heart of the film.

Most of the film is deliberation, not action. Bureaucracy is as much part of the film as any amount of action, for the higher ups (Alan Rickman’s general, Helen Mirren’s colonel, and assorted other heads of state) throw the decision back and forth to each other, having to get clearance on both legal and political levels to carry out the drone strike. It’s infuriating to watch as time ticks away, knowing that at any moment the situation could change and compromise the mission, but it’s also a reminder that drone strikes aren’t just carried out willy-nilly. There is deliberation, and there are people who argue both sides of the ethical argument. And the most important reminder may be that there are real people who have to make this decision, who have to weigh lives against each other. Perhaps drone strikes are not the impersonal robotic attacks we’ve come to see them as.
Cover Image Credit: IMDB

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.

Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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When Words Are Not Enough

Sometimes you just need to be.


Life is a roller-coaster of ups and downs. We all desire easy fruitful lives where no one ever dies and no one ever leaves. Instead, we suffer through hardships and great trials that test our faith. These conflicts often leave us worn down and feeling helpless. This is the time when words become a languid breeze, going through one ear and out the other. This is what you should do when words are not enough to satiate the pain you hold in trembling hands.

Focus all your energy into just being. No one expects you to get over the tragedy that occurred in your life, so don't force yourself. Just eat, breathe, and sleep until you feel up to doing normal tasks. Whatever circumstance that has stolen your breath and turned your life upside down won't go a week in a couple of days or a week. Wounds like yours don't go away instantly; instead, they take time and nurturing. Sometimes it's best to keep a sore covered but in some circumstances, know that seeing someone is okay.

These tragedies you face are real, and they try to break down the very substances that make you who you are. Counselors and therapists can help you make sense of the burden you carry. There are many reasons why you might be hesitant to see a therapist, but if the burden you carry becomes too much, a therapist can help you lighten that load.

Know that what you are going through is real and it is tough, but you will make it out on top. You are a survivor and a success story. Every single bad thing that has tried to tear you down hasn't succeeded, and this will be no different. Trust me, your story is not over.

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