Droning on About Drones

Skippable, glib introductory paragraph:

I finally removed my name from the Obama campaign email list. It took a few tries, which was fine with me because it gave me several chances to fill in the box about why I wanted to be removed from their mailing list. I explained that much as I respect and, in broad terms, support the President, his policy of killing people by remote control drone aircraft is so abhorrent to me that I found it difficult to maintain enthusiasm for his re-election.

Unnecessarily wordy instructions on how to read the five main points:

I would like to lay out for you five reasons that we should not be continuing the U.S. drone assassination program. In reverse order of Lawrence Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory, I have listed the points starting with universal moral principles that transcend human law and ending with strictly legal reasoning. From listening to discussions on the news about war over the years, I have come to realize that most people do not consider values-based arguments when deciding whether state violence is an appropriate course of action. Nor are legal considerations generally taken seriously in matters of war and peace. Practical and tactical considerations, which reflect Level Two of Kohlberg’s moral development schema, are almost universally aired in place of thinking about laws or thinking in terms of right and wrong. If, like me, you are one of the few people in the world who considers broad principles of right and wrong to be of the utmost value, then you should read the following points from top to bottom. If, however, you consider practical, concrete, and immediate points to be more salient, you should read the list from bottom to top.

The five main points of this article:

  1. It is wrong to kill people. More specifically, it is wrong for the State to kill people. This argument does not hold much sway for most people in the United States. After all, this is a country in which a majority of the adult population support the death penalty. Perhaps some of those people, however, might make a distinction between judicial and extra-judicial executions.
  2. The image of the most powerful nation on Earth hiring a dude in an office in Ohio to press some buttons in order to assassinate people around the planet by remote control, thus avoiding any risk to its own people, is rightfully seen as cowardly.
  3. Drone attacks inexorably kill people other than the intended targets. Estimates of how many civilian men, women and children have been killed vary widely, but the practice has engendered huge resentment in much of the world. This has greatly exasperated our failure to win hearts and minds in regions of the world where we are fighting wars of ideology.
  4. Inevitably, other countries will follow our lead and develop and use drone technology. Every time we send a drone around the planet to assassinate a perceived enemy, we are saying that the state is justified in doing so. Stop for a minute to see the future we are creating, when, say, Pakistan deems it necessary to drop a bomb on an apartment complex in Chicago where they have “actionable intelligence” that an anti-Pakistan terrorist is hiding.
  5. Drone assassinations are illegal. 200 years after our nation was founded, we in the United States decided that we wanted to live in a civilized nation that did not engage in assassinations. So, in 1976, President Ford outlawed assassinations: “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”
It is my assertion, therefore, that the policy of killing people around the world by remote control is dangerous and immoral. It is dangerous because it invites retaliation, blurs the law, and presents us with a vision of a state using its technology to kill anyone anywhere for whatever reason it sees fit. It is immoral because it devalues life and uses evil means to attempt to reach just ends.
I would like to close with two quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Cowardice asks the question – is it safe?
Expediency asks the question – is it politic?
Vanity asks the question – is it popular?
But conscience asks the question – is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position
that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular;
but one must take it because it is right.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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6 Responses to Droning on About Drones

  1. Samir Hafza says:

    I also have been seriously thinking about taking my name off Obama campaign email list, but for a different reason—Obama abandoning the Palestinians in the face of the enormous Israeli lobby in Congress.

    I had worked tirelessly for Obama 2008 campaign in Salt Lake City. Though we knew Utah was the brightest red state in the nation, our efforts in Salt Lake were focused on the neighboring Colorado and Nevada. I took my two little boys to Obama headquarters in Salt Lake to meet the volunteers. The big room sizzled with energy. We burned the midnight oil. We made the calls. We changed minds and hearts of many of those on the sidelines. We saw an opportunity for real change in the American political system. We were full of hope.

    Then reality hit: The talk of depression if we didn’t bail out the too-big-to-fail banks. Green energy moved to the back burner. Guantanamo to remain open. Republicans hell-bent on sabotaging any chance for an Obama second term by saying “no” to every proposal he makes, even if they had agreed with it previously. Acrimony and mudslinging to continue to dominate Washington, despite the fact that Obama has kept his pants up to all female White House interns. The United States is broke, and the lyrics of Buy, Buy American Pie replacing Don McLean’s.

    But I am not a one-issue voter. I still hold hope that Obama in his second term will do the right thing by the Palestinians and ask Israel to stop behaving like a spoiled child. (Oh, how I wish we had a six-year one-term presidency!)

    As for electronic killing you oppose, it’s hard to see a scenario where it may end. I think this is the way of the future. Warfare has changed. Native Americans bemoaned the settlers having guns; they accused them of cowardice. But that didn’t change the new reality of warfare.

    No, I won’t say, “Give Obama a chance. Think of the Republican alternative.Things can be scarier.” I think it’s admirable that you are taking a principled stand.

    However, imagine if Obama had stopped the drone killing for the reason that it is morally wrong, what would the American public think of him or the rest of the Democrats in the next few election cycles? And as a result, what do you think the fabric of our Supreme Court would be? (Just one of many consequences of giving a carte blanche to Republicans.) Your vote and mine will not carry the day, the Tea Party nuts will own the country, the effect of which will be felt for a long time, and we will need more than one MLK or Gandhi to get us out of the mess.

    Unfortunately, American voters are not as informed and moral as they think they are. If they’d studied Martin Luther King’s words, the church-goers of them would start thinking more like you.

    I hope you continue to unabashedly try to change the moral compass of the world. Thank you.


  2. EricIndiana says:

    Here’s a site to visit about the illegality & immorality of drone assassinations: http://malu-aina.org/?p=867


  3. l0oree says:

    I recently started college again. When you have a chance please read my essay on morals for my developmental psychology class I am taking. Five week course Starting the third week at midnight. I am going to post it as soon as it is graded. I learned that it would be considered plagiarism if I post before grading. Then when I post will give credit back to windowslive. From my original word document writing.


  4. l0oree says:

    Graded finally:) The last sentence I have always wanted to use that line…. I am a dork sometimes lol.


  5. […] Droning on About Drones…. It is my assertion, therefore, that the policy of killing people around the world by remote control is dangerous and immoral. It is dangerous because it invites retaliation, blurs the law, and presents us with a vision of a state using its technology to kill anyone anywhere for whatever reason it sees fit. It is immoral because it devalues life and uses evil means to attempt to reach just ends. READ FULL POST […]


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