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The case for drone attacks

Bill Ramsay claims the use of war-fighting drones is as immoral as the use of nuclear weapons (Letters, November 18).

This claim deserves to be challenged. The traditional jus in bello (justice in war) case against the use of nuclear weapons is two-fold. First, they are indiscriminate in that they fail to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. Secondly, they are disproportionate in that they cause more harm than is necessary.

In both cases the use of unmanned drones acts to mitigate against these two problems, rather than exaggerate them. In the first case, problems of discrimination are overcome by virtue of the pilot's distant location from the battlefield. As he is not in any personal physical danger he can assess the situation without fear for his own personal safety and is afforded the time to deliberate upon his course of action. His ability to distinguish combatants from non-combatants is increased and consequently the frequency of hastily made (and likely erroneous) targeting decisions is lessened.

In the second case the situation concerning proportionality is similarly improved. As a result of precision targeting, the quantum of destructive force required is reduced.

Drones have the potential to make war less bloody, and this is to be welcomed.

Chris McLaughlin, 71b Braidpark Drive,


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