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Arpan Bhandari- Inquiry Project

Arpan Bhandari- Inquiry Project

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A paper on the ethics of Drone warfare.
A paper on the ethics of Drone warfare.

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Published by: arpanॐ on Dec 04, 2012
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Arpan Bhandari Instructor: Malcolm Campbell English 1103 November 6, 2012 Drone Warfare: State Sanctioned Terrorism Karim Khan sat in his home when he heard a quiet hum. First, he ignored it but then it came to him. He closed his eyes and recited a prayer. Upon opening his eyes he realized that his eighteen year old son and thirty-five year old brother were no more. Two explosions by unmanned drones had reduced his home to rubble and his family to memories. Now, the name Karim Khan sounds as though it would belong to a stereotypical “terrorist” or a member of the Taliban. Khan is actually a journalist. His eighteen year old son was a government employee and his brother, a teacher (McVeigh). They were killed not with a gun handeled by a soldier, American or Pakistani. They were blown up by a drone controlled by a U.S soldier most likely in Nevada. Two civilians violently buthchered by a man on the other side of the world. If questioned in America, those two men will be dismissed as collateral damage when they are anything but. They were victims of what can be called “state-sanctioned terrorism,” After all what else can we call such a tragedy? It is time we asked, does the silent droning in Pakistan and Afghanistan done by the American government have tactile advantages that outweigh its moral violations? It is essential to understand the history and the geography of the area in question and the droning campaign itself. According to “Living Under Drones,” a study performed by New York

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University Law school and Standford Law School, the use of drones in war is nothing new. Its been a part of war strategy since World War 1. However it wasn’t until about 2001 that drones went from being used for surveillance to actually harming people. With only 167 predator drones in 2002 there are now more than 7,000 in the United States’ arsenal (Mulrine). The operation started as a “targeted killing” practice by the Bush administration. The first strike, killing three men, was carried out in Afghanistan and a suspected target was former Al-qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden. Upon further investigation, the C.I.A sheepishly admitted it wasn’t Bin Laden who had been killed. In fact, they didn’t know who the man was that they killed. Later investigations suspect that the men were most likely just collecting scrap metal. (Mayer). Since then drone strikes have been repeatedly carried out and civilian deaths have been dismissed as collateral damage or have not been addressed at all by the American government. The study goes on to discuss the areas which have been affected the most by the silent droning. In north-eastern Pakistan there is a cordoned section known as F.A.T.A (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). The area was originally formed by the British colonists during the mid twentieth-century. Entirely populated by Pashtuns, F.A.T.A is a section containing seven agencies and six frontier agencies. It is bordered by the disputed Durand line in the west, the Khyber Pakhtunawa province in the North and East, and Balochistan in the South. The area is under direct authority of the Pakistani president, currently Asif Ali Zardari. Pakistani courts and legislation have no authority over the area. Locally, the Pashtuns have two power sytems in place called Jirga and the British implemeted system, Maliki. Jirga is a system of elders where a few men in each frontier meet to discuss the conflicts of the area. This is a system that is essential to Pashtun culture and is considered the most important. Maliki is a system in which an elder, not necessarily the most essential elder, is another member of the Jirga. The concept of Maliki is not

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considered important because it was implemented by outsiders and was not an original part of Pashtun culture (“Living Under Drones”). The original droning campaign, started under the Bush administration, only performed personality strikes. A personality strike is focused on a single primary subject. The CIA would locate a single person who is to be targeted and carry out a drone strike on that person’s exact location. However, under the Obama administration, a new form of striking, signature strikes, were introduced. “Living Under Drones” goes on to explain that a signature strike can be carried out on any group of individuals that seem suspicious to the Obama administration. For example, if a group of people congregate often and seem to belong to a group or clan, they can be deemed suspcious and the administration will not hesitate to carry out a strike. It is an issue of debate that dual strikes are carried out as well, mostly to clear out the aftermath. “Living under Drones” reports that often times if people congregate to clear out the bodies or provide medical help to the victims a second strike is carried out. Now, people refuse to lend a hand to any surviving victims of the first strike. Thus, although it can be considered a security measure, signature strikes aren’t the most ideal way to go about removing suspected individiuals. Who makes the call though? Who gives permission to the CIA and the U.S Military to carry out the strikes? The president himself. President Obama, in a letter to Congress, specifially Speaker of the House, John Boehner, acknowledged military action in Yemen and Somalia, concerning Al-qaeda. He did not, however, address any action in Pakistan (Obama). The program has been kept such a secret that the majority of information news sources have reported has come from leaks inside the government. According to Associated Press and The New York Times, if the CIA isn’t sure if a strike will lead to civilian deaths, the ultimate decision goes to President Obama (Klaidman).

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President Obama, according to an article on Slate.com states that President Obama has called for 5 times more strikes than President Bush did (Kirk). In these strikes, those of which have been in Pakistan have resulted in an estimated 2,593 to 3,378 deaths; Of these many deaths 475 to 885 have been of civilians including women and children (Wood; Lamb). Althought these numbers are debatable, they are the result of President Obama’s actions for it is primarily his responsibility to sign off on these strikes. The Legality of the Drone Warfare Our world runs not based on what should be done but what can be done. Therefore, it is only right that we first pay attention to the legality of the drone warfare carried out by the Bush and Obama administrations. Andrew C. Orr, a J.D candidate at Cornell Law School compiled an extensive article for the Cornell Law Journal, focusing on the legal concerns of drone warfare. First, we must look at the victim nation, Pakistan’s, jurisdiction. According to UN special Rapporteur Phillip Alston, “A targeted killing conducted by one state in the territory of a second state does not violate the second state’s sovereignty [where]… the first, targeting state has a right under international law to use force in self-defense under Article 51 of the UN charter1, [and] the second state is unwilling or unable to stop armed attacks against the first state launched from its territory” (Orr). Thus it can be said that the American government has the right to intervene and use drones in the State of Pakistan. If Pakistan, by choice, decides to prevent

*Article 51; UN Charter: Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

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American forces from droning, it can. The UN Security Council specifically states that “every state has the duty to refrain from . . . acquiescing in activities within its territory directed towards the commission of such acts, when such acts involve a threat or use of force. (Orr). Therefore, Pakistan does have the right to prevent the strikes; however, according to Orr, Pakistan has given America permission to strike. Orr then goes on to explain that even if Pakistan hadn’t given permission, America’s actions would go unopposed for under international law, “Pakistan may not oppose its sovereign rights to any foreign State that intends lawfully to use force against Alqaeda” (Orr). Disregarding any kind of moral violations, international law has been written in such a way that the heinous acts being carried out by the American government are fully legitimate.

The Moral concerns of Drone warfare The question to be asked is, “What right does America have to kill civilians in foreign nations?” On a moral basis, it doesn’t. The drone strikes are carried out in such a careless manner that they result in the deaths of many innocent people. Many philosphers have discussed the ethics of war from Sun Tzu to Machiavelli to Chanakya. The ethics of war have been discussed the world over. When it comes to war and the morality of taking lives, it is always beneficial to look toward German philosopher, Immanuel Kant. Kant is well recognized for his formulations of moral philosophy. His third formulation is of primary concern. The third formulation, as a basis, uses “complete determination of all maxims.” Essentially calling for the moral concerns of all thoughts motivating any behavior (Kant 436). Kant then goes on to state "that all maxims which stem from autonomous legislation ought to harmonize with a possible realm of ends as with a realm of nature. So act as if your

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maxims should serve at the same time as the universal law” (Kant, Foundations, pp. 438–9.) Therefore, what can be taken from Kant’s third formulation is that one must consider his or her actions as the moral law for the universe. If Kant is to be considered an authority on moral philosophy, then we should be worried about what our president considers to be ethical. Kant stressed the idea of a categorical imperatve, meaning we, as humans, have a strict duty of treating others as equals. If President Obama dismisses the deaths of civilians as collateral damage and then he has strayed far from the moral behavior expected from the legislative authority of a nation. His primary concern, under Kant’s philosophies, should be the preservation of all humans. President Obama, of course, has to remove any threat to the security to his nation; however, that does not justify his dismissal of the deaths of civilians at his hands. Therefore, under Kantian philosophy, it can be said with confidence that the actions of the President are not ethical whatsoever. Another concern, on a moral and ethical basis, would be the psychological traumas faced by the civilians of the F.A.T.A district. Coming across accounts of Pakistani citizens is a very difficult task for they are hard to obtain and often times are not shown to the public. However, in November of 2008, New York Times Journalist, David Rohde was captured by members of the Taliban. Rohde, along with his two colleagues, were held captive in Waziristan, the forefront of drone warfare. Rohde states “The drones were terrifying. From the ground, it is impossible to determine who or what they are tracking as they circle overhead. The buzz of a distant propeller is a constant reminder of imminent death. Drones fire missiles that travel faster than the speed of sound. A drone's victim never hears the missile that kills him” (Rhode). Imagine the mental stress that causes. Rohde was held captive for roughly seven months and he had begun to feel sympathy for the innocent civilians living in the area, “They inhabit a hell on earth in the tribal

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areas” (Rohde); and how right he is. The Pakistani civilians, children, women, elders, and men, all are victims of the Talibs on one side and the backhanded warfare of the American’s on the other. The American government hides its heinous warfare methods under the cloak of “democracy” and “freedom.” There is no freedom to be found in the minds of the Pakistani civilians. They are victims of Talib men with AK-47s and hypocritical beliefs, and even worse, unmanned drones. It is impossible to say which is worse, being killed by the hands of a man or from a robot nearly two miles in the sky. “Living Under Drones” states that in an interview with an unnamed Pakistani psychiatrist, the stress faced by Pakistani civilians is known as “Anticipatory anxiety.” (“Living Under Drones.”) The psychiatrist then goes on to explain that because the majority of his patients are of from Waziristan, the primary mental stress they have can be attributed to anticipatory anxiety. Their main concern and question is “when will there be another strike?” So, not only do drones physically hurt the men, women, children and elders of Pakistan they also harm them psychologically, reducing their lives to panic and uneasiness. As citizens of a nation and even more importantly the world, we must take a look at the actions of our government. We must speak out for the sake of humanity. The actions of a government should be beneficial to its people and the people of other nations. In this case, the silent assailants might be for the greater good; however, their actions aren’t. The means our government, the American government, is using to achieve some good are leading to nothing but horrible ends. It is times like these where we must question the actions of our government. We are human beings and although we have written what we call law, we are also responsible for morality and each other.

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Works Cited

Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals Klaidman, Daniel. "Drones: How Obama Learned to Kill." The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 28 May 2012. Web. 3 Nov. 2012."A Map of All the Reported Attacks-five times as Many under Obama as under Bush." Slate Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2012. “Living Under Drones;” New York School of Law and Stanford School of Law. McVeigh, Karen. "Lawyer for Victims of CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan Again Denied Entry to US." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 13 Apr. 2012. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. Mulrine, Anna. "Drone Warfare: Top 3 Reasons It Could Be Dangerous for US." Christian Science Monitor, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2012. Obama, Barack. "2012 War Powers Resolution 6-Month Report." Letter to Speaker of the House. 15 June 2012. MS. N.p. Orr, Andrew C. "Unmanned, Unprecedented, and Unresolved: The Status of American Drone Strikes in Pakistan Under International Law." Cornell Law Journal 729 (2012): 730-52. Print. "The Predator War." The New Yorker. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2012.

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Rohde, David. "Reuters Magazine: The Drone Wars." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 26 Jan. 2012. Web. 06 Nov. 2012. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Study on Targeted Killings, para. 29, Human Rights Council, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/24/Add.6 (May 28, 2010) (by Philip Alston). Woods, Chris and Lamb, Christina. (4 February 2012). "Obama terror drones: CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals". Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 7 February 2012.

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