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Drones over Pakistan: secrecy, ethics, and counterinsurgency

Drones over Pakistan: secrecy, ethics, and counterinsurgency
Drones over Pakistan: secrecy, ethics, and counterinsurgency
The US government appears to be using drones to launch air strikes inside Pakistan. This article details uncertainties regarding the ethical soundness of these strikes and highlights the consequent need for greater official transparency. Available evidence is assessed in the light of traditional ethical requirements that the use of force is beneficial to a legitimate military objective, that it discriminates between combatants and noncombatants, and that it generates harm that is proportional to the expected military benefit. The murky picture that emerges is an inadequate foundation for determining whether US drone strikes in Pakistan constitute a just or an unjust use of force. Arguably, however, the very persistence of doubt on this point undermines international norms on the use of force and the reputation of the United States as a champion thereof. The US government should therefore either refrain from drone strikes or explain publicly how they are beneficial, discriminate, and proportionate.
1479-9855
218-237
Enemark, Christian
004b6521-f1bb-426a-a37b-686c6a8061f6
Enemark, Christian
004b6521-f1bb-426a-a37b-686c6a8061f6

Enemark, Christian (2011) Drones over Pakistan: secrecy, ethics, and counterinsurgency. Asian Security, 7 (3), 218-237. (doi:10.1080/14799855.2011.615082).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The US government appears to be using drones to launch air strikes inside Pakistan. This article details uncertainties regarding the ethical soundness of these strikes and highlights the consequent need for greater official transparency. Available evidence is assessed in the light of traditional ethical requirements that the use of force is beneficial to a legitimate military objective, that it discriminates between combatants and noncombatants, and that it generates harm that is proportional to the expected military benefit. The murky picture that emerges is an inadequate foundation for determining whether US drone strikes in Pakistan constitute a just or an unjust use of force. Arguably, however, the very persistence of doubt on this point undermines international norms on the use of force and the reputation of the United States as a champion thereof. The US government should therefore either refrain from drone strikes or explain publicly how they are beneficial, discriminate, and proportionate.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 13 October 2011
Organisations: Politics & International Relations

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 400208
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/400208
ISSN: 1479-9855
PURE UUID: 3c95629a-2ca6-45a6-be16-e59fa6864ce3
ORCID for Christian Enemark: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1833-0927

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 22 Sep 2016 13:13
Last modified: 09 Jan 2022 03:55

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