Thursday, November 7, 2013
Human Rights and Drone Strikes
Citing this article: U.S. drone strikes may be 'war crimes'
Recently, due to human rights examinations from different groups globally. the United States use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAVs or drones, has come into consideration for treatment as a human rights abuse. People that support this claim state that drone strikes are inherently destructive, and cause unnecessary collateral damage. They also state that the use of unmanned vehicles is unethical, primarily because it does not provide an opportunity for a human conscience to provide intervention.
To these claims, I respond. What is it about drone strikes that cause collateral damage that is inherently worse than regular air strikes that do the same? Is it because we give human operators the benefit of the doubt while holding their mechanical and computational counterparts to a higher standard? I believe that there is no difference between drone-caused damage and human-caused damage. To a degree, greater atrocities have been committed by humans than drones in the past. Drones are programmed to follow a specific set of instructions, while humans are capable of choice; choice that is not always for the better. One very pertinent example of this is the My Lai massacre. This massacre occurred at the hands of human soldiers in Vietnam in the days before drones were used at all. This example is also pertinent because it shows the power of leadership in the army. When a superior gives an order, soldiers are obligated to follow regardless of the order. In very few cases do soldiers disobey direct orders, which brings human operators back full circle. On the battlefield, because of the obedience instilled into each individual soldier, soldiers become in similar likeness to drones. That is not to say that they are not capable of free choice, but that they deny themselves that choice in their service.
In light of everything said above, I believe that the focus for these human rights groups should not be on drones, but on the needless and collateral destruction of war zones. Drones present an easy target for groups to work against, but they are not the source for the damage that people truly protest. They are merely tools from which actions occur.