Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Predators Over Pakistan

Predators Over Pakistan

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An outstanding lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of two ethical/legal justifications of the recent drone attacks on Taliban and AQ targets (TAQ). One justification, (one might call it the 'wartime model'), justifies targeting AQ types because they are combatants at war with us. Since it is established that one can target enemy combatants during wartime, we can certainly target the TAQ. They not only have declared war on us, but are carrying out attacks.

Now, having taken this route, the Bush administration, in calling what is going on post 9/11 a global war on terror, inadvertently opened itself up to the complexities of international 'lawfare,' a utilization of the laws of war in efforts to cripple the U.S. ability to defend itself, As well, in the West, any resort to war needs justification in terms of just war theory, a complex and subtle task even in the most straightforward of scenarios. For instance, the 'last resort' criterion is hard to establish, and easy to use as a cudgel, by those that would delegitimize the war on terror, and more particularly, the Obama administration's increasing reliance on lethal drones.

Another justification, or model, predicated on the right of self defense, morally and legally defends drone and missile attacks in such a way as to not require that there be a state of war. A State can defend itself from any threats, even if the source of that threat has not declared war on that state. Why is that? An essential function of state's is that they provide security for citizens. If lives are threatened, or taken by non-state actors, states can takes steps to remove the threat. There have been many instances of this existence of hostilities and violence, absent declarations of war, throughout history.

This self defense model of justification, does not carry with it the requirement that governments meet such stringent moral and legal justifications as exist in just war theory, or international laws and conventions governing war, before resort to lethal force can find moral justification. This position, however is sometimes argued to be a sort of carte blanche allowing too much.

(Of course, the exact same thing has been said about just war theory, that it is merely a complex rationale' or a sort of template for creating a rationale' for resort to military action, which any state can use to justify warfare.)

I cannot do the article justice here, but recommend it highly. Lengthy, but worth the time.

Tuesday Blues: Son House, Empire State Express