Pandoras_Presumption_Drones_and_the_Prob

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Journal of Strategic Security Volume 7 Number 4 Special Issue Winter 2014: Future Challenges in Drone Geopolitics Article 3 Pandora’s Presumption: Drones and the Problematic Ethics of Techno-War Matthew Crosston Bellevue University , [email protected] Follow this and additional works at: pp. 1-24 This Article is brought to you for free and open access by the USF Libraries at Scholar Commons. It has been accepted for inclusion in Journal of Strategic Security by an authorized administrator of Scholar Commons. For more information, please contact [email protected] . Recommended Citation Crosston, Matthew. "Pandora’s Presumption: Drones and the Problematic Ethics of Techno-War." Journal of Strategic Security 7, no. 4 (2014): 1-24. Available at:
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Pandora’s Presumption: Drones and the Problematic Ethics of Techno- War Abstract Present American policy proclaims the compatibility of drone usage with the traditional Rules of Engagement and the Laws of War. Largely absent in this is an examination of how enemy combatants are being defined on both sides of drone activity: not just the targets and operators but also the relevance of drone technology proliferation. This work engages the void to reveal inconsistent and contradictory ethical standards in American drone policy, based largely on an assumed continued technical preeminence that is by no means guaranteed. The argument is not a humanitarian lament against hegemony: it is a realist argument addressing how ethical inconsistencies in defining American technological warfare compromise the ‘leadership high ground’ for the United States in a manner that carries fairly significant national security blowback potential. This article is available in Journal of Strategic Security:
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1 Introduction Present American policy proclaims the compatibility of drone usage with traditional Rules of Engagement and the Laws of War. Some initial analytical criticism is beginning to challenge how drones are used empirically and to a lesser degree asking theoretical and ethical questions from such evidence. Largely absent in this debate is an examination of how enemy combatants are being defined on both sides of drone activity (not just the targets and operators but also the relevance of drone technology proliferation) and how the inexorable spread of technological innovation around the globe might impact these issues. Perhaps most important: could a forced application of the Laws of War to drone usage backfire against American interests as the rest of the world catches up in drone technology? By focusing on this aspect of the debate, the work reveals inconsistent, secret, and contradictory ethical standards in American drone engagement policy, based largely on a desired continued technical preeminence that can by no means be guaranteed. This argument is not a humanitarian lament against United States hegemony. Rather, it is a realist argument addressing how
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