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Debate: Remote-control warfare

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What are the pros and cons of drone operations?

Contents

Background and Context of Debate:

Ethics: Can pilotless airplanes be morally justified?

Pro

  • "Pilotless aircraft can hit targets without placing a pilot in harm's way." [The Economist, "Droning on", April 2010]


Con

  • Killing civilians. Attacks on civilian sites (if they had not been so commandeered) "may constitute war crimes. (...) On June 23rd 2009, for example, an attack on a funeral in South Waziristan killed 80 non-combatants." [The Economist, "Droning on", April 2010]
  • Drone operations resemble warfare video games. "... the operators of drones, often on the other side of the world, are far removed from the sight, sound and smell of the battlefield. They may make decisions to attack that a commander on the ground might not, treating warfare as a video game." [The Economist, "Droning on", April 2010]

Efficiency: Are drone operations crucial for military success?

Pro

  • They are useful for assassinations. "On February 17th [2010], for example, Sheikh Mansoor, an al-Qaeda leader in the Pakistani district of North Waziristan, was killed by a drone-borne Hellfire." [The Economist, "Droning on", April 2010]


Con

  • They are counterproductive. Errors, such as accidental bombing of civilian sites, "are not only tragic, but also counterproductive. Sympathetic local politicians will be embarrassed and previously neutral non-combatants may take the enemy's side." [The Economist, "Droning on", April 2010]


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Pro

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Con

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