In a new article in The Atlantic (The Killing Machines: How to think about drones), Mark Bowden takes an extended look at drones - their warfare applications, the moral implications of their use, their history and even a little Old Testament comparison:
As anyone who has ever been in combat will tell you, the last thing you want is a fair fight. Technology has been tilting the balance of battles since Goliath fell. I was born into the age of push-button warfare. Ivy Mike, the first thermonuclear bomb, capable of vaporizing an entire modern metropolis, of killing millions of people at once, was detonated over the Pacific before my second birthday. Growing up, the concept of global annihilation wasn’t just science fiction. We held civil-defense drills to practice for it.
Within my lifetime, that evolution has taken a surprising turn. Today we find ourselves tangled in legal and moral knots over the drone, a weapon that can find and strike a single target, often a single individual, via remote control.
Bowden reports on an interesting take by controversial Bush administration attorney John Yoo:
John Yoo, the law professor who got caught up in tremendous controversy as a legal counselor to President George W. Bush over harsh interrogation practices, was surprised that drone strikes have provoked so little hand-wringing.
“I would think if you are a civil libertarian, you ought to be much more upset about the drone than Guantánamo and interrogations,” he told me when I interviewed him recently. “Because I think the ultimate deprivation of liberty would be the government taking away someone’s life. But with drone killings, you do not see anything, not as a member of the public. You read reports perhaps of people who are killed by drones, but it happens 3,000 miles away and there are no pictures, there are no remains, there is no debris that anyone in the United States ever sees. It’s kind of antiseptic. So it is like a video game; it’s like Call of Duty.”