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Drones, risk, and perpetual force

Drones, risk, and perpetual force
Drones, risk, and perpetual force
This article contributes to the debate among just war theorists about the ethics of using armed drones in the war on terror. If violence of this kind is to be effectively restrained, it is necessary first to establish an understanding of its nature. Because it is difficult to conceptualize drone-based violence as war, there is concern that such violence is thus not captured by the traditional jus ad bellum (just resort to war) framework. Drone strikes probably do not constitute a law enforcement practice, so the peacetime ethics of criminal justice do not apply either. One possible solution is to develop and apply a legitimization framework of jus ad vim (just resort to force) in which vim is “force short of war,” although this depends upon a vim–bellum distinction being a sustainable one. Moving beyond discussion of these three alternative concepts of drone-based violence, the article suggests a fourth—vis perpetua (perpetual force)—and explores the ethical implications thereof. As a form of violence that presents no physical risk to individual users of force, a program of drone strikes poses a moral problem if it is intended to continue indefinitely, leading to the systematic endangerment of innocents without the eventual promise of peace.
0892-6794
365-381
Enemark, Christian
004b6521-f1bb-426a-a37b-686c6a8061f6
Enemark, Christian
004b6521-f1bb-426a-a37b-686c6a8061f6

Enemark, Christian (2014) Drones, risk, and perpetual force. Ethics & International Affairs, 28 (3), 365-381. (doi:10.1017/S0892679414000446).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This article contributes to the debate among just war theorists about the ethics of using armed drones in the war on terror. If violence of this kind is to be effectively restrained, it is necessary first to establish an understanding of its nature. Because it is difficult to conceptualize drone-based violence as war, there is concern that such violence is thus not captured by the traditional jus ad bellum (just resort to war) framework. Drone strikes probably do not constitute a law enforcement practice, so the peacetime ethics of criminal justice do not apply either. One possible solution is to develop and apply a legitimization framework of jus ad vim (just resort to force) in which vim is “force short of war,” although this depends upon a vim–bellum distinction being a sustainable one. Moving beyond discussion of these three alternative concepts of drone-based violence, the article suggests a fourth—vis perpetua (perpetual force)—and explores the ethical implications thereof. As a form of violence that presents no physical risk to individual users of force, a program of drone strikes poses a moral problem if it is intended to continue indefinitely, leading to the systematic endangerment of innocents without the eventual promise of peace.

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e-pub ahead of print date: 4 September 2014
Published date: October 2014
Organisations: Politics & International Relations

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 400203
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/400203
ISSN: 0892-6794
PURE UUID: 9a7bfcea-5ff7-4383-9709-660af749d3bd
ORCID for Christian Enemark: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1833-0927

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Date deposited: 13 Sep 2016 09:07
Last modified: 23 Jul 2022 02:15

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