Eugene Robinson, a Pulitzer-prize winning columnist for The Washington Post, got me pondering this morning. His column was on the morality of targeting (and killing) perceived enemies using drones, those “robots of the air” that are remotely controlled. They are currently used by the United States in at least six countries: Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.
This is not warfare, Robinson contends; it is assassination. I agree: Assassination by remote control.
Clearly, we use drones because it is a way of striking a perceived enemy without endangering American lives. Those of a pacifist persuasion will naturally be opposed to using drones. But even if someone believes it is morally permissible to go to war, this method raises a lot of serious questions and Robinson raises several:
- Given public outrage at the use of drones in Pakistan (because they’ve killed so many innocent people), won’t this method earn us new enemies?
- Doesn’t this robot system increase the chance of deadly mistakes?