KINSLEY: Yes, warfare by drone still counts as actual warfare
Published: Friday, January 11, 2013 at 7:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 at 7:02 p.m.
In his book
Guernica was a German dress rehearsal for the London blitz, the destruction of Warsaw, and so on. Soon to come on the Allies’ side were the destruction of Dresden, the firebombing of Tokyo and, of course, the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today when we think of war, bombing from the sky is one of the first images that come to mind.
One consequence of this and other developments in warfare has been a blurring of the distinction between soldiers and noncombatants. Wars used to be conducted on battlefields, between soldiers in uniforms lined up in rows, bayonets ready. People famously took picnic baskets to watch the first battle of Manassas, thinking that the Civil War would be like that. It wasn’t.
The War on Terrorism’s contribution to this unfortunate history has been the drone: an unmanned plane that can aim at and hit a target with enormous precision. And, as with earlier developments, we’re getting used to it. The eye passes right over headlines such as
The advantages of using drones are obvious. No American lives are put at risk, and the precision minimizes collateral damage, including the deaths of innocents who happen to be nearby.
The disadvantages follow from advantages. When a military option seems less painful, it is more likely to be resorted to. The ability to strike at the enemy with absolutely zero risk to your own people must be especially appealing to politicians such as President Barack Obama, for whom the decision to put Americans in harm’s way is surely the toughest one to make.
But drones also highlight a terrible anomaly of civil- libertarian societies: the contrast between how we treat killing
In fact, the entire edifice of protections against convicting the innocent is irrelevant in battle. You kill the other guy because he’s trying to kill you, and unless you’re raping women or slaying babies, you’re going to get a medal, not criticism.
Once upon a time, these two spheres were separate, with one set of rules
Why is it not only OK but praiseworthy for the U.S. government to aim at Anwar al-Awlaki and kill him because he is an al-Qaida
The Obama administration’s position is that it has looked at this carefully, and there’s no legal problem with drone assassinations for reasons that regrettably must remain secret. U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon’s wonderfully acerbic decision, issued last week, reluctantly acknowledges the administration’s right to maintain this absurd position.
I wonder especially about the teenage son killed in a separate drone attack, and the two killed just before New Year’s Eve because, according to Reuters, they were
Michael Kinsley is a
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