Friday, February 8, 2013
The morals of war are an often debated and contested subject; especially as certain human rights are given up, while others are retained. This is easily seen by the fact that enemies give up the right to life in terms of fighting on a battlefield. However, torture is strictly prohibited by the Geneva Convention. This article addresses the morality of using unmanned aircraft to kill enemies, and concludes that it is justified. The author gives three main reasons for supporting drone attacks.
First of all, he says that they are cheaper than the alternative. Although I agree that this could be an argument due to the potential for that money to be wisely spent elsewhere, I do not think we should make moral issues based on money. We should not say that “this is moral because it makes solving other, unrelated problems easier”. Second, he says that it is moral because fewer humans die. From a utilitarian perspective this argument is perfectly valid, and I agree that a drone attack is preferable. If the military has already determined that the target would be killed if a chance encounter occurred between combatants, and there is no chance of capture without heavy losses, a drone attack may be the best option. The author’s third and final justification concerns the fact that drone strikes are more impersonal and are better met by public opinion. I feel that this should instead be an argument against, as it inhibits our ability to fully understand what is occurring. It is hard to understand the horrible situation of those people dying, weather necessary or not, through a screen. Finally, the author concedes that though he feels drone attacks are moral, he may have to reconsider the situation when they are used against us. In conclusion, I think that drone attacks could be justified as another weapon during a war, however not as an assassin against potential enemies.
Aside from this article, I found some of the comments very interesting, though on somewhat different topics. LordByng said “You see, this is exactly what Hitler was talking about. There was an ethnic group that was a threat (imaginary of course). And it was a matter of whose four-year-old would get killed. He simply and logically wanted that threat removed, and wanted Jewish four-year-olds to die, and not German ones.” While this comparison is a little extreme and misplaced, it does raise some interesting questions into the morality of self-defense and preemptive strikes. Since this is a slightly different topic I won’t go into it, but just wanted to show it as an area of further discussion. Also, to enhance understanding: http://xkcd.com/652/