Wednesday, July 16

Targeted Killing and Drone Warfare


You're reading philosophy. And about rights of man. One of the fundamental rights is the right to life. I do not thus believe in capital punishment. The person may be a heinous criminal. A murderer. A genocidal man. But that doesn't give the right to kill to the state. That's the ultimate red line. You can imprison the chap but not take his life. So I'm happy that more and more states are stopping capital punishment. So far so simple. 

The second element is war. It's stupid but I'm cognisant that it will keep on happening. Even if everybody suddenly decided to be good from today, the sins of our forefathers will cause wars to break out. So war will happen. And it's inherently unequal therefore weaker people will try to carry out asymmetric warfare like terrorism. And then shit like drone warfare happens. 

Every new technology brings forth these challenges. When the bow and arrow was invented, the stone throwers cried foul. When guns were invented the bow and arrow and sword fighters cried foul like in the last samurai. And now it's drones. 

Few Saudis and Emiratis flew planes into the twin towers. If you think that these men were brainwashed by Islam and were mindless humans, then not much difference between the polo it's sitting in Nellis Air Force base flying these drones eh? Killing huge numbers of people? Same justification that Obama is giving. They are all military ages males. Similar to the 9/11 victims. All Americans? Justifications are challenging son. 

Philosophy involves you asking difficult questions. And in some cases these involve death and destruction. You've got the book by Thucydides. He wrote about how people take decisions on war son. None are good decisions. None. 

Read the book on just and unjust wars by waltzer. It's on my bedside table. Think of the Bangladeshi war. One of the very few just wars. St Aquinas  will agree. And that win in 1971 is going to keep reverberating in Bangladesh India and Pakistan for many generations to come. Bah. 



Targeted Killing and Drone Warfare | Dissent Magazine

Targeted Killing and Drone Warfare

It is always a hard question whether new technologies require the revision of old arguments. Targeted killing isn’t new, and I am going to repeat an old argument about it. But targeted killing with drones? Here the old arguments, though they still make sense, leave me uneasy.

First things first. Untargeted killing, random killing, the bomb in the supermarket, the cafĂ©, or the bus station: we call that terrorism, and its condemnation is critically important. No qualifications, no apologies: this is wrongfulness of the first order. But someone who takes aim at a particular person, a political official, a military officer, is engaged in a different activity. He may be a just assassin, as in Camus’s play, though I don’t think that the justice of the killing depends on the killer’s willingness to accept death himself (which is Camus’s argument). It depends on the character of the official or the officer, the character of the regime he serves, and the immediate political circumstances: what else is there to do? But even if the assassination is a wrongful act, as it most often is in history if not in literature, the wrongfulness is of a second order. By aiming at a person thought to be guilty of something, the assassin indicates his rejection of aimless killing. Someone in his organization probably thought that it would be better to kill the official’s extended family or to put a bomb in the restaurant where he and “his kind” regularly dine; he refused to do that or, at least, he didn’t do it.

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