Tag Archives: jus in bello

Moral & Legal Challenges of Drone Warfare

Peace Policy

Ethicists and international legal experts speaking at the Kroc Institute conference (March 19-21) raised concerns about the implications of drone warfare. Martin Cook(U.S. Naval War College) noted that drone weapons reduce the risk to U.S. forces and result in fewer civilian casualties, but they may increase the temptation to use force. They may be “tactically smart but strategically dumb,” he said.

The justifications for drone warfare offered by Obama administration officials invoke the jus ad bellum and jus in bello criteria of just war doctrine, presenters said, but they fail to mention the core principle at the heart of this doctrine:  the presumption against the use of force. Just war principles of discrimination and last resort are often cited in rhetoric but are frequently violated in practice.

Under jus ad bellum criteria, Jennifer Welsh (Oxford University) argued, military force can be used only under very specific and necessary circumstances: …

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Can we wage a just drone war

Can we wage a just drone war

“In short, there is no clear end game of the drone campaign against Al-Qaeda, but rather, an endless cycle of perceived threat, drone strikes, inevitable collateral damage, and mutual animosity. The successes lauded by Brennan in his speech may be but a Pyrrhic victory. By their very nature, drones remove the human element because they are operated from far away and all but eliminate any positive contact with local populations. This may greatly diminish the risk to U.S. personnel, but it also makes making peace almost impossible. If drones are to be effective, they need to be part of a clearly defined strategy where non-lethal measures are the priority, and drone strikes are a last resort. Just because they are easy to use and very effective at killing does not mean they should be used in lieu of other options.”

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