Drones more humane than past systems
The use of drones, especially armed drones, has been in the national spotlight recently.
Their use as “eyes in the sky” to monitor various activity is becoming widely accepted, and their ability to quietly stay over a target area for extended periods of time is useful in accomplishing this mission.
In fact, that role is likely to greatly expand in the future, moving from a primarily military mission to one that involves civilian law enforcement and security missions. It is a relatively inexpensive way to observe areas to monitor criminal activity or to secure sites from potential intrusion.
There are some who object to this on privacy grounds, but the reality is that the same thing is already being accomplished but in a less efficient or useful way. It seems inevitable.
When it comes to using drones to kill, however, there is great controversy, as witnessed in recent hearings in Washington. Drones used in military anti-terror missions around the world can not only seek but also destroy, and frequently do. When the target is identified, instructions can be relayed remotely to fire a deadly missile.
The problem is that it is not always just the guilty who are harmed but sometimes also the innocent who are in proximity, including women and children. This “collateral damage” — an innocuous term for a terrible event — has caused outrage against America around the world.
There is no doubt it is horrible and every effort should be made to avoid it. But “collateral damage” or “friendly fire” incidents have been part of the history of conflict. In fact, it has been worse in the past. Remember the London blitz by Germany in World War II or the related “carpet bombing” of German targets by Allied planes? Hundreds of thousands of innocents died.
Drones at least allow much more precise — if sometimes mistaken — targeting of our enemies. That is little comfort to those wrongly killed and their families. But we would argue it is a far more humane way of conducting attacks and is defensible on that basis alone.