Here’s the abstract for a chapter I’m writing on the ethics of drones in counterinsurgency. What say the twittersphere? Am I on the right track? Have I ignored something massive? Speak now! (And thank you!)
What side will I come down on? Guess you’ll just have to stay tuned….
“The Wizard of Oz Goes to War: Unmanned Systems in Counterinsurgency”
The military has witnessed the convergence of two disparate trends over the past decade – a resurgence of population-centric warfare and the proliferation of unmanned systems. The combination of these two trends has created a counterinsurgency environment where the population has become an inextricable part of the battlespace at precisely the same time that the warfighter is becoming increasingly protected from the threats and dangers of war. This inversion of the norm of noncombatant immunity seemly discredits the ethical use of unmanned systems. This chapter will explore the question of whether unmanned systems have a defensible place in counterinsurgency operations. It argues that to the extent they enable service members to discriminate and target belligerents with greater accuracy; free them to focus on building relationships rather than provide security; and therefore support, rather than replace service members in the battlespace, they reinforce traditional efforts to protect civilians from the horrors of war. To the extent unmanned systems are used in order to reduce the presence of U.S. service members while increasing the lethality of combat, they subvert the intention that underlies noncombatant immunity and proportionality of means.