America Is Asking All the Wrong Questions About Drones

We should be asking, "Is it ethical to use drones anywhere?

A crew chief conducts a post flight inspection of a RQ-1 Predator drone at Balad Air Base, Iraq, Sept. 15, 2004.
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Domestic and international legal questions about drones reflect deeply held American values, but legal discussions fail to make sense of how these values might be reconciled in the face of specific ethical dilemmas. Nor do they recognize and grapple with the values and anxieties of other communities. And both the Bush and Obama administrations have demonstrated that it is easy to provide legal justification for controversial policies. Legal debates can distract us from urgent ethical questions.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Relationships that feature intense violence and vulnerability deserve deep reflection and deliberation. Indeed, if there are to be ‘new rules' in the War on Terror we should listen to those who most acutely experience their impact.

Perhaps the prospect of armed drones hovering above us, deployed from an estimated current and future 64 drone bases in the U.S., is ultimately a productive step for taking these ethical questions seriously if it leads us to imagine how whole populations feel about the continuous possibility that right now, in the company of friends and in your own home, you could be in the crosshairs of a drone.

  • Read Lamont Colucci: Don't Underestimate the al Qaeda Threat
  • Read Malou Innocent: Perpetual War Makes Obama's Drone Abuses Possible
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