I've got a question. Why is a drone ethically more questionable than a guided missile?

Back during the Gulf War, we were treated to video clip after video clip on television news of guided missiles "surgically" hitting their targets. I never remember anyone raising an ethical question about using a guided missile to hit a specific target (presumably sometimes being a specific person) in warfare.

To be clear, I would much prefer not to wage war. I don't want to bomb anyone. I don't want to assassinate anyone. But I do understand that in the world we live in, sometimes we have no better option than military action.

I don't believe there is any such thing as a "surgical" strike. Unless your target is sitting on a rock, out in the middle of a large desert, there is always collateral damage.

But is it different if your target somewhere in a Pakistani village is blown up by a Tomahawk or a drone? You get the drone back afterward, so there must be a cost savings, but I think they must be ethically equivalent.

Military hardware evolves, but it's still military hardware. It kills people. That's what it was designed to do. That's ALL it's designed to do.

Pharaoh's chariots carried death to the enemy. Rome's shield walls made it a little safer to kill the enemy. Iron and steel swords killed a bit more efficiently than bronze. Guns made it possible to kill more efficiently from a distance. A cannonball can kill more people than a bullet. Tanks allow you to kill in relative safety. Missiles allow you to kill at a much longer distance. Bombing from aircraft was a more accurate way to kill at a distance (before guided missiles).

So, what's the big deal about drones?

What would be good would be ending war.

As for using a drone over U.S. soil to kill an American citizen: I think it's an extremely unlikely scenario. Yes, it's a good idea to have a publicly stated principal that the government may not assassinate American citizens on U.S. soil without due process. But publicly stated principals only hold until the government decides it has the authority (legitimate or not) to override publicly stated principals.

The Times Square bomber was cited as a situation where drones might have been used against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. That's ridiculous. Trying to take out the bomber with a drone would be doing it the hard way. If you have precise enough information about his whereabouts to send a drone, the police can arrest him much more easily.

Drones are used to penetrate enemy territory without putting personnel at risk (our personnel that is -- their personnel is a different matter). On U.S. soil, there isn't any enemy territory. There may be dangerous places, but they are not held by an enemy.

That's not to say that there aren't disturbing possibilities for the use of drones for domestic surveillance. I would outlaw the domestic use of drones on the constitutional principal of unreasonable search and seizure. At the very least, I would require a search warrant to use a drone for surveillance.

But, at the end of the day, in a war zone, why is a drone worse than a guided missile?

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