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Death from above: Ramesh Thakur on drones

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IWIG member Professor Ramesh Thakur of the Australian National University (Crawford School of Public Policy) writes in The Ottawa Citizen, 16 November 2012 that armed drone attacks in Pakistan are cheap, effective and safe for Americans, but the terrible costs outweigh the benefits.

He writes:

US drones have killed 2,000 to 3,000 people in Pakistan … Both U.S. presidential candidates supported the continued use of drones, and recently Britain announced a doubling of its drone fleet in Afghanistan while France said it is sending drones to Mali.

The U.S. has more than 7,000 drones today compared to 50 just a decade ago. By the end of next year there will be more U.S. air force personnel operating drones than flying planes.

Such technological prowess holds the seductive allure of war and morality on the cheap. But is it? Moral deliberations and legal accountability rooted in social purposes cannot be outsourced to robots and machines.
Of particular relevance to IWIG’s campaign to relocate the power to deploy the Australian Defence Force into armed international conflict from the Executive to the Parliament, he writes

The convenience of drones produces the perverse incentive of lowering the threshold of the resort to lethal violence by reducing the risks and costs of war. Because political leaders can escape the agony of putting sons and daughters in harm’s way, they can make decisions on war and peace more lightly than before.

After analysing the moral and legal issues and the consequences of the drone warfare campaigns, he concludes that on the balance-of-consequences test, drone strikes are doing more harm than good.

Read the full article here.

Originally published by AWPR, 18 November, 2012 | 11:22 am

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