“Senior Pakistani militant leader Mullah Nazir has been killed by a US drone strike” says a headline on the BBC news page.
I am coming to think that attacks by drone aircraft, where no personnel are at risk are nothing more than murder.
Historically, with the possible exception of the V1 and V2 during the first world war, to fight any war or battle it was impossible to do so without people on both sides of the conflict being in mortal danger. This was probably something of a moderating factor when deciding if and when an escalation to armed conflict became necessary, because to pose a risk to an enemy it was necessary to accept some risk yourself, albeit a calculated risk.
Since the introduction of drone aircraft (surely a misnomer?), it is possible to murder a person or group of people from hundreds, even thousands of miles away and all without exposing the ‘good guys’ (just who exactly are the good guys anyway?) to any risk at all, unless of course, they happen to trip over on the way to the play-station pilot’s operating console.
The violence that was previously a last resort when all else had failed, has now become an easy option and it is easy for politicians to justify their use. I do not by these thoughts try to make out that there is no place for drones in the modern military, they are excellent intelligence and information gathering tools and surveillance platforms, Surely though if a situation is serious enough to attack and kill for, everyone involved should face risk. Some degree of risk must extend to the decision makers, who must be accountable for those decisions and able to justify them. This should be especially true for those of us in ‘civilised’(?) countries.
Whilst the loss of life is, under any circumstances, lamentable, this post is intended to focus on the particular means. It is not meant to be any kind of comment or discussion of the issues in the news report case that prompted it.