The implications of being able to watch anywhere in the world with great patience and exactitude over a long period of time—to select targets and kill them remotely from a distance—is a frankly terrifying tool.
I picked up the newspaper and brought it home, thinking I may enjoy this article. The article in question is an interview with Mark Bowden, former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and author of Blackhawk Down. It turns out that Bowden has a new book out called The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden. It also turns out that Bowden is absolutely crazy about drones. That previous quote makes him seem reasonable, but his continued statement reads:
But it does meet the three criteria for lawful warfare better than any previous weapons system. And that is, once you’ve got over the hurdle of necessity, the next two principals are discrimination and proportion.
In the area of discrimination, there never has been a tool that is more effective at choosing targets more carefully than drones. We can literally shoot a missile that’s essentially a rifle shot at an individual—which, if it works, obviates collateral damage, period. You hit the target you aim at. I’m not saying it’s always used wisely or there’s never a mistake made. But compared to the alternatives—which are dropping 500-pound bombs or sending in the troops—the scale of collateral damage is exponentially smaller than ever before.
Wait a second – this guy studied drones as part of the research for his book, and he cannot grasp that a missile and a rifle shot are two different things? I get that they both go BANG, but one demolishes a body, while the other can demolish tanks. I might be pushing things a bit here, but if it can destroy a tank, maybe there is a bit more collateral damage. For instance, killing multiple occupants of a car – like a bad guy, his wife, and their children?
I think Mark should read this CNN story on drones and civilians deaths in Pakistan. We have declared war on Pakistan, right?