Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Drones - The Legal and Moral War

A MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle prepares...Image via Wikipedia

A common theme that keeps coming up of late is the use of drones by the US military. While in previous posts we have seen how the US Air Force is wrestling with integrating the new drone pilots into its structure we now see other more important issues are starting to be tackled. Here is a very interesting podcast that takes a look at some of these issues.

This issue has become so contentious following the remarks by Harold Koh, the full text of which is available here. This was soon followed by Justice Stevens remarks that questioned the validity of the position taken by Harold Koh, for a thorough overview of this debate I recommend Anthony Clark Arend's post available here. This radio interview below further fleshes out this debate and all this marks the start of a conversation that needs to be had, especially before these new weapon systems start getting used against the USA, but not necessarily by other states which is still glossed over here.

But at least we are talking.

Peace
clipped from www.npr.org

For several years now, the U.S. has conducted a clandestine war in Pakistan against al-Qaida and the Taliban, and after President Obama took office, the CIA sharply increased its use of unmanned aircraft, or drones, to attack commanders, fighters and well, so often members of their families. Inevitably mistakes kill people totally unconnected to either group.

After questions about the legality of what some call extrajudicial killings, targeted killings or assassinations, the Obama administration issued a legal justification last week. The State Department's top lawyer, Harold Koh, stated in part that U.S. targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war. You can read that statement on our Web site.

So is this campaign legal? Is it effective? Is it wise?
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