I Agree

Do you?

Peter Bergen:

But without an international framework governing the use of drone attacks, the United States is setting a dangerous precedent for other nations with its aggressive and secretive drone programs in Pakistan and Yemen, which are aimed at suspected members of al Qaeda and their allies….

Just as the U.S. government justifies its drone strikes with the argument that it is at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates, one could imagine that India in the not too distant future might launch such attacks against suspected terrorists in Kashmir, or China might strike Uighur separatists in western China, or Iran might attack Baluchi nationalists along its border with Pakistan.

This moment may almost be here. China took the United States by surprise in November 2010 at the Zhuhai Air Show, where it unveiled 25 drone models, some of which were outfitted with the capability to fire missiles….

Only the United States, United Kingdom and Israel are known to have launched drone strikes against their adversaries, although other members of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, such as Australia, have “borrowed” drones from Israel for use in the war there….

While the drone industry thrives and more companies, research institutes and nations jump on board the drone bandwagon, the United States is setting a powerful international norm about the use of armed drones, which it uses for pre-emptive attacks against presumed terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen. It is these kinds of drone strikes that are controversial; the use of drones in a conventional war is not much different than a manned aircraft that drops bombs or fires missiles.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://intothehills.org Kullervo

    I’mk not sure how the use of drones for pre-emptive attacks against presumed terrorists is any different than the use of a manned aircraft that drops bombs or fires missiles for pre-emptive attacks against presumed terrorists.

    It seems like the issue is pre-emptive attacks against presumed terrorists, not drones.

  • Bill

    No. First, he does not define international framework. Who might that be? Sounds good but lacks some firmness.

    Second, our use of drones is risky, I agree. But you can’t establish any causation between our use and then use by Yemen or Pakistan. Just because we use them, they will too? Who’s to say they weren’t going to use them if we didn’t?

    Third, it’s not clear if Bergen believes bombing from aircraft is just as problematic as he wants us to believe about drone usage.

    Anecdotally, isn’t he the same Peter Bergen who said, “”Killing bin Laden is the end of the War on Terror. We can just sort of announce that right now.”

    Oh, okay.

  • http://rising4air.wordpress.com MikeK

    I agree, as well. The whole use of drone technology is very very slimy. This is one of those historical moments in which ethicists, clergy, policy makers, politicians, and military need to get on the same page. For we are in one of those situations in which technology has outstripped our ethical reflection on the technology itself.

  • Tom Howard

    Ah, war is always complicated but the potential for mid-use is really high

  • Les Yoder

    How much “collateral damage” is acceptable? Reports say that USA drones are killing 49 people (which includes children) for every 1 terrorist they kill. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2208307/Americas-deadly-double-tap-drone-attacks-killing-49-people-known-terrorist-Pakistan.html

  • http://www.theleapofdoubt.com Bob

    Just praying that SkyNet doesn’t become self-aware… otherwise I might opt for the blue pill…

  • Jeremy

    I think the real issue with drone strikes (aside from degraded target acquisition and significantly lower deployment risks meaning easier abuse) is the violation of national sovereignty that takes place. We’re establishing that violating and striking inside of another country’s borders without permission is quite alright as long as the aircraft is unmanned. That’s a huge problem when the nations with far fewer ethical constraints start to mimic us. We’re left with no leg to stand on when it gets out of hand.

  • http://communityofjesus.wordpress.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    I agree. Very troubling, indeed.

  • Bev Mitchell

    I live in a village and am trying to imagine what it would be like to live here with drones armed with hellfire missiles flying above the village 24/7 (or it might as well be 24/7 since I cannot see them or hear them). What would I think about the people funding, managing and releasing these things? Even if I was strongly against the people targeted by the drone managers, would I think it OK to terrorize my family just to have an outside chance of hitting the bad guys? Even if I believed that all the targets were legitimate, would I agree to have my neighbour’s wedding fired upon? Just wondering.

  • http://themadhattermemoirs.wordpress.com/ Jonathan Montan

    Not to mention what they could do against its own people.

  • EricMichaelSay

    I think Jeremy hit the nail on the head.

    This is a HUGE issue to me. Not only the precedent and the innocents killed, but the lower threshold politicians have to cross, the lack of risk and consequences for the use of deadly force. Not to mention how it turns Nevada and Colorado into a war zone.

    If anyone has any ideas for opposing weaponized drones please let me know.

  • John I.

    What is even more troubling is the use of drones to kill an american citizen without a trial (and relatives of the three American citizens killed in drone strikes in Yemen last year have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against four senior national security officials). It’s a rather bizarre century when a sitting democratic president is as much a war criminal as a previous republican one (waterboarding, which has always been defined as torture and for which Japanese were tried and executed by America as war criminals for waterboarding during WWII).

    May as well declare a “war” on the mob or on drug traffickers and kill them without a trial too. And what about violent offenders on the run? Or those trying to get away in a car and endangering others. And what about the use of drones to monitor the Mexican and Canadian borders? why not arm them. It’s all semantics; the defining of American citizens (and others) as not Americans deserving the protection of the constitution or as not people deserving any protection at all (i.e., less protection than a soldier in an “official war”).

    And since America was not actually fighting a war in Iraq (otherwise congressional authorization would be needed), doesn’t that make American soldiers into “not official war combatants” and thus not deserving of any legal protections under UN conventions?

    With drones it’s all so much easier to objectify people and strip them of their existence as ends-in-themselves. They’re just means to America’s ends. Or, at least their deaths are.

    John I.

  • http://restoringsoul.blogspot.com Ann F-R

    It seems as if another country may already have launched a drone. Israel shot down a drone over the Negev, according to news within the last week. The BBC interview with James Jeffrey, a British soldier who operated drones in Afghanistan expressed very real concerns – which, imho, are theological problems we need to face – in use of drones & much of modern warfare. Dehumanization of others is much easier, the greater the physical-mental-emotional distance. ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19820760 )

  • Bill

    #13 Ann “Dehumanization of others is much easier, the greater the physical-mental-emotional distance.” Good point but killing at a distance isn’t a new thing.

    Let’s take recent history for example:
    Allied bombing of Dresden and Hamburg (WW2)
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki (WW2)
    Carpet bombing North Vietnam
    Sadam Hussein using bio weapons on the Kurds
    Gazans using missles and mortars daily on Israel

    Is it somehow better and more acceptable to kill people up close? Does that make killing more human? It’s more preferable to kill with guns and knives but not bombs or in this case drones?


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