The Ethics of Drones

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: Drones are increasingly becoming some of the most valuable weapons in America’s arsenal.

Drone operator speaking on video: This is going to save someone’s life today.

LAWTON: Unmanned aircraft such as the Predator and the Reaper can hover over remote areas and do surveillance for hours, even days. Their operators are often in places as far away as Nevada or Virginia, and the drones can release missiles or bombs with no risk to those operators. Experts say within 20 years the vast majority of America’s fighting aircraft will likely be pilotless. The use of drones may be strategic, but is it moral?

N.B. – Depends on who you ask, but apparently the answer from the United States government is “yes.” Or at least they like to use the words “moral obligation” and “ethical” in regards to killing unarmed civilians using “video games” from another continent.

PROFESSOR EDWARD BARRETT (US Naval Academy Center for Ethical Leadership): If you believe that a society has a duty to reduce unnecessary risk to its combatants, then these systems do that, so that would be actually one moral obligation, and then also the state has an obligation to effectively and efficiently defend its citizens, and these systems are effective and efficient.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL DAVID DEPTULA: The precision, the persistence, and the accuracy that remotely piloted aircraft bring to the equation actually enhance our ability to accomplish our objectives while minimizing loss of life.

PROFESSOR MARY ELLEN O’CONNELL (University of Notre Dame Law School): To accept killing far from the situation of battlefields where there is an understanding of necessity is really ethically troubling for many of us.

LAWTON: America’s use of remotely piloted aircraft or drones has increased dramatically since President Obama took office. Both the military and the CIA use them in combat operations and counterterrorism missions. Drones have been engaged in lethal operations in at least six countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Libya. Retired Lieutenant General David Deptula oversaw the US Air Force’s drone program from 2006 until last year. He says remotely piloted aircraft achieve a moral good.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL DAVID DEPTULA: The precision, the persistence, and the accuracy that remotely piloted aircraft bring to the equation actually enhance our ability to accomplish our objectives while minimizing loss of life.

Read more at PBS.org: The Ethics of Drones

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About antiguerre

Web and mobile developer. Peace and human rights activist. Will code for peace. Be an activist - change comes from the bottom up, not the top down.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Iraq, Libya, Military Industrial Complex Revisited, National Security State, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Ethics of Drones

  1. focusonpeace says:

    Interesting article. I just finished reading “The Next 100 Years” http://www.stratfor.com/next100years/the_book
    One of the things the author talks about is the increased use of drones.

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