Monday, July 23, 2012

Drone Warfare and the Corruption of Personhood

The New York Times today has a long, convoluted essay on the ethical issues of using drones.

The Moral Hazard of Drones by John Kaag and Sarah Kreps

The authors conclude that drones are unethical because their ease and the invisibility of the operator produce moral hazard:

[Excerpted] "This issue has all the hallmarks of what economists and philosophers call a “moral hazard” — a situation in which greater risks are taken by individuals who are able to avoid shouldering the cost associated with these risks...."

 Majia here: Although I agree that drone use produces moral hazard, in my mind there is a bigger issue.

Using drones to kill targets is a direct violation of habeas corpus and due process.

The right to a trial at which we are present is a foundational cornerstone of liberalism.

Liberalism is a philosophy that essentially held that wo/men are the owners of their own selves and therefore the rights of the sovereign over individuals are limited.

Liberalism is what curtailed the autocratic reign of monarchs over subjects.

Of course, habeas corpus is in fact FAR OLDER than liberalism.

Although there is some dispute about the origins of habeas corpus, it can be traced definitely back to 1300

Drone attacks deny targets all rights to due process.

Drone attacks essentially deny personhood.

Drone attacks are thus dehumanizing.

Drone attacks dehumanize the attacker as well as the attacked because the act of denying another person's humanity is soul destroying.

Finally, drone attacks do not work because they often kill innocent victims.

The New York Times recently published in an editorial an excerpt from a letter written by a Yemeni lawyer describing the blowback from drone attacks:

How Drones Help Al Qaeda. By I. Mothan June 30, 2012

“DEAR OBAMA, when a U.S. drone missile kills a child in Yemen, the father will go to war with you, guaranteed. Nothing to do with Al Qaeda,” a Yemeni lawyer warned on Twitter last month. President Obama should keep this message in mind before ordering more drone strikes like Wednesday’s, which local officials say killed 27 people, or the May 15 strike that killed at least eight Yemeni civilians.

Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants; they are not driven by ideology but rather by a sense of revenge and despair. Robert Grenier, the former head of the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center, has warned that the American drone program in Yemen risks turning the country into a safe haven for Al Qaeda like the tribal areas of Pakistan — “the Arabian equivalent of Waziristan.” 

...The first known drone strike in Yemen to be authorized by Mr. Obama, in late 2009, left 14 women and 21 children dead in the southern town of al-Majala, according to a parliamentary report. Only one of the dozens killed was identified as having strong Qaeda connections....

MAJIA HERE: The dehumanization implicit in drone warfare will be turned against the very population that the US government claims to be defending, the US populace.

US airspace is already being militarized by surveillance drones

Targeted killings of Americans on American soil is only one step away.

And it will happen if we do not change our approach to drone warfare.

The soul of the oppressor has already been corrupted.

The target of oppression need not be cloaked in a foreign flag.

The explosively expanding surveillance-industrial complex within the US must capture dissent to legitimize its existence.

As "threats to homeland security," criminals, would-be-criminals, and dissidents will be targeted for containment.

The expediency of drones versus the cost and "inefficiencies" of arrest and trial will seduce and the lobbying power of drone makers will calculate.

Using drones to kill "enemies" is a tactic that transforms us all into would-be targets.

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