There are a few officers still serving that I hold in high regard. Below is a discussion I had with one such officer via email recently.
Current discussion about drones to kill “high-value targets” may miss the point, ethically and politically. Discussion has centered on the toll a drone exacts on nearby luckless individuals and the fact that some high value-targets can lay claim to being U.S. citizens.
The technology for remote killing has become increasingly precise—from carpet bombing to TLAMS to smart bombs, now hellfire missiles. Extrapolate forward to a remote controlled weapon that promptly and reliably impacts just a single, targeted individual, absolutely no collateral damage. Better, or worse? The catch is the targeting process itself. Our national mantra is “innocent until proven guilty”. How proven and, to what standard of proof? Do we abide the Blackstone ratio, “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”?
The larger issue, however, is that as precision increases, the barriers to use drop. Previously, a more scatter-shot killing on another’s sovereign soil might occasion war. But, precision technology has lowered the profile for extra-territorial attack and war need not be the outcome. Good, so far as it goes, but less constrained technology can mean less restrained actors …and, technology proliferates.
Very interesting but doing the wrong thing righter does not make it right. and we are already at less restrained — including with JSOG which is SHOCKED as how the kill list has expanded beyond the originals. Brannon has become our Ollie North in a far worse way internationally [I refer to North’s enabling the import of high volumes of cocaine via El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, and the crack cocaine epidemic, contrasted with indiscriminate murder by drone or JSOG hit teams, globally]
My own thought is that drones with stealth (which tonixs are killing pilots) are best used for covert imagery.
Yes, already somewhat unrestrained …the point of the comment was that as technology gets better and better, we become ever less restrained.
Which is why E. O. Wilson, in Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, answered the questions “why do the sciences need the humanities?”
Ethics matters. We appear to be morally disengaged and intellectually very immature, which is why I believe my brand of intelligence with integrity has something to offer, if I can get one Cabinet Secretary in any government to pay attention. In the long run “the truth at any cost lowers all other costs,” but this is only relevant to those governments whose political leaders actually believe in democracy. Not in the USA at this time.
Checks and balances are gone. In the past the civil servants could be trusted to restrain the politicals, but loyalty has replaced integrity and silence has become the choice means of being derelict in one’s duty.