By guest author Michael Furtado
My most fundamental concern about drones relates to the question of moral proportionality.
Granted there are terrorists, but to battle them with unmanned weapons of destruction smacks of policing and preemptive attack rather than honoring the principles of the just war. It places the U.S. in the position of being the world’s police-person while protecting its own interests, which is the kind of binary that sets up a conflict of interest.
Not that I support the just war theory in an era when collateral damage is routine. To wreak this damage with unmanned remote surveillance aircraft appears to be particularly intrusive and punitive, and unmanned intrusions into another country’s airspace are a clear breach of sovereignty.
Moreover, part of that sovereignty entails providing guarantees to citizens about protecting their human rights, especially their right to life and limb. The power imbalance ensuing when one party can ride roughshod over another by invading its airspace and killing its citizens completely out-trumps any secondary considerations regarding rationales for the invasion.
At best, arguments justifying such a transgression claim a need to protect soldiers engaged in peace-keeping assignments. However, the greater likelihood is that drones are used because of the high cost and increasing non-viability of stationing U.S. troops around the world for search and destroy missions.
Because of the surveillance technologies drones employ, they also intrude beyond all reasonable expectation and justification into the private lives of third parties, which ought to be a freedom that is sacrosanct.
Michael Furtado has served as education officer (Peace, Justice & Development) for the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia, and contributed to peace and human rights education projects in Catholic schools as with the Catholic Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission in Queensland.