Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues

Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues

Speaker, Marjorie Cohn (center) with Chad Bauman (left) and Harry Van der Linden (right).

Speaker, Marjorie Cohn (center) with Chad Bauman (left) and Harry Van der Linden (right).

On April 7th, 2015, Marjorie Cohn, professor of law at the Thomas Jefferson Law School delivered a presentation on the United State’s use of drones and targeted killing. Cohn recently edited “Drones and Targeted Killing,” a collection of writings from policy analysts, lawyers, legal scholars, a philosopher, a journalist and a sociologist on the legal, moral, and geopolitical considerations of targeted killing by unmanned aircrafts. The presentation was a collaboration of the Desmond Tutu Center, Butler University’s Department of Philosophy and Religion, Butler University’s Amnesty International, and the Ayres Fund.

The book includes a chapter by Butler University professor Harry Van der Linden which examines the use of drones in the context of just war theory and a forward by Archbishop Desmond Tutu which expands on his famous letter to the New York Times following the 2013 Department of Justice leak listing conditions for the targeted killing of U.S. citizens by drones that outraged the American public. Desmond Tutu points to this as an example of American exceptionalism asking, “Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours?”

Cohn saw a great need to put together the book due to the lack of national discourse on the use of drones, what she refers to as, “Obama’s weapon of choice.” She believes this practice is largely supported by Americans because it doesn’t put the lives of American soldiers at risk in the way traditional manned military aircrafts do. It is also supported due to the lack of coverage, including images of the victims, of the attacks. Most Americans believe drone killings are carried out with precise accuracy, killing only those militants who pose a threat to the international community. During her presentation, Cohn challenged the predominant narrative with clearly articulated arguments, which she substantiated with credible sources.

Drones and targeted killing, Cohn explains, will not solve the problem of terrorism because it doesn’t address the root political and economic causes. Rather, she believes this practice contributes to the rise of terrorism, citing a Pentagon study that stated, “Direct intervention in the Muslim world intended to counter terrorism ends up contributing the rise of it.” She concludes by saying, “Until we stop invading other countries, occupying their lands, torturing their people, and killing them with drones, we will never be safe from terrorism.”

Click here to watch the full presentation.

Recommended Posts
Contact Us

Thoughts or Questions? We'd love to hear from you.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt