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There is coming on the scene a more efficient, though expensive, way to wage war from the skies–the drone aircraft, the Predator.

The Predator is the product of the small, privately owned San Diego General Atomics Aeronautical System. It’s a great way to bomb the enemy–and never get near them–and for only $19.2 million a plane, just less expensive than some professional ball players.

One of the worst parts of war is the innocents who die while the armies fight it out. And with aircraft and long-range guns from the sea, no matter how accurate, there are always a lot of civilians unfortunate enough to be caught in the gun sights.

One hundred years ago, the Hague Conference of 1907, composed of 44 nation states, sat for four months and settled on several world-changing ideas:

Their purpose was to encourage peaceful settlements of disputes and limit the use of force to recover debts of other countries. Among other things, they adopted the Geneva Convention regarding Maritime War.

All these were attempts to develop a mindset toward peace rather than war. The item that caught my eye was the declaration prohibiting discharge of projectiles, etc., from balloons.

I have been in sturdy old C-47s, DC-8s and 747s–as well as once in a rickety two-seater over the flooded islands of the Philippines. But in my 77 years I never had a yearning to go up in a balloon. My only encounter with balloons was at a party.

Not so with Brazilian-born Santos-Dumont. Since the late 1880s he had been amazing the world with his balloon flight around the EiffelTower. He was soon forgotten as an inventor of flight after the Wright Brothers’ flights at Kitty Hawk. Today Santo-Dumont is barely remembered outside Brazil, where he is still a hero.

In less than 10 years of the Hague Conference, Europe was enveloped in what was called The Great War–the war to end all wars. The one President Woodrow Wilson said would bring democracy to the world.

War took on a new look with the coming of the airplane. Now you could sneak up on the enemy from the skies and do all kinds of damage, though they seldom knew where the bomb would actually land.

Since making war is much more profitable than making peace, advances in aerial warfare grew by leaps and bounds. Now, with the Predator, controlled from thousands of miles away can spy, bomb or certainly scare the living daylight out of the recipient.

With 1907 a new century of hope and peace lay ahead. Leaders of 44 nations tried to get it off to a peaceful start. They failed miserably as the 20th century became the bloodiest in human history.

The 21st century began as the old one closed: wars and disputes. The 1990s smoldered in warfare and conflicts large and small. People kept dying while others worked on ways to kill more. Not a pretty picture of mankind, but a truthful one.

I sometimes wonder why God does not give up on us. He did not put us here to kill each other. He gave his creation a free will, to choose right or wrong and to suffer the consequences.

Some think, like the Deists, that God created everything and then left the world to spin with no concern from Him. We are too limited in this area to know what God has for His world. The Lord Jesus said to his disciples soon after his murder and resurrection: Fear not! And again: “I am with you always.”

Britt Towery, a retired Baptist missionary, writes a weekly column for the Brownwood Bulletin in Brownwood, Texas.

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