In recent years, drone warfare technology has made tremendous strides, allowing modern war to be conducted in many respects by remote control.
This may seem like a boon to technologically savvy countries like the United States, and in a sense it clearly is. But the moral calculus of war is rarely that simple. While drones can and do shield front-line troops from danger, and can often substitute for them entirely, they also have other effects. Drones can make it more likely that we will enter into wars, for example, and if so, then it’s no longer clear that they help the ordinary soldier. Drones may increase casualties among noncombatants; their pinpoint accuracy is only as good as the human intelligence behind them, which now may be more subject to manipulation, not less. And drones are also available to hostile states and nonstate actors, including terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
To discuss these issues, Cato Unbound this month has assembled a panel of experts on drones and ethics of war. Our lead essay is by David Cortright of the University of Notre Dame; he is joined by Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution, as well as Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute, who will contribute on Friday; and Tom Barry of the Center for International Policy, whose reply will appear on Monday.
Conversation will continue throughout the month, so be sure to subscribe via RSS if you want to see the discussion as it happens.