Monday, July 16, 2012

The Moral Case for Drones?

The New York times ran a piece the other day on the moral case for drone attacks. The piece is not all that sophisticated or interesting. It is mostly boring because they are defending (or at least quoting people who are defending) drone warfare.

However, on closer inspection, what they are actually defending is the moral preference of a drone attack on a target to an attack on the same target by an assassination team. So the article is not saying anything about the ethics of assassination, but rather it is saying that if you will assassinate someone, it is morally preferable that you do it by remote control because you minimize certain kinds of risks.


The article barely mentions the morally important points relating to the fact that with drones it is now far easier to actually carry out these assassinations, making them more common, and now a policy tool of the Obama administration. All that is not to say that there is anything wrong with such attacks, but rather to say that The Times discusses the banal questions and glosses over the important ones. Any increase in precision is good, both militarily and I would say morally. But that is not where the drone controversy is in play. No one ever seriously suggested that drones are evil because they are more precise. People who dislike drones on moral grounds dislike them because they now make it possible to assassinate targets with relative ease and fewer repercussions.

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