The Morality, Ethics, & Legality of Drone Warfare

–Paul Schulte, Honorary Professor at Birmingham University, joins David to discuss drone warfare, including a recent report by Birmingham University about the use of drones.

–On the Bonus Show: Discussing satirical news, graphene, laser data transmission, gamma ray bursts, much more…

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  1. TheNatSecWonk on May 15, 2021 at 2:36 am

    This comment outlines expert, scholarly publications in the literature and official policy/legal/doctrine documents;
    To learn the domestic/international law/policy regarding drone strikes, see the following documents:
    1) DOJ’s May 25, 2011, White Paper on Legality of a Lethal Operations by the CIA against a US Citizen
    2) 2014 DoD Report to Congress on Process for Determining Targets of Lethal or Capture Operations
    3) DOJ July 16, 2010, memorandum, Re: Applicability of Federal Criminal Laws and the Constitution to
    Contemplated Lethal Operations Against Shaykh Anwar al­Aulaqi
    4) DOJ White Paper, Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who
    Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or An Associated Force

    Now, are they effective? Answer: A clear yes! See,
    1) Patrick B. Johnston, Anoop K. Sarbahi; The Impact of US Drone Strikes on Terrorism in Pakistan, International Studies Quarterly,
    Volume 60, Issue 2, 1 June 2016, Pages 203–219
    2) Aqil Shah, Do U.S. Drone Strikes Cause Blowback? Evidence from Pakistan and Beyond, International Security
    Volume 42 | Issue 04 | Spring 2018 p.47-84
    3) Bryan C. Price. “Targeting Top Terrorists: How Leadership Decapitation Contributes to Counterterrorism.”
    Quarterly Journal: International Security, vol. 4. no. 36. (Spring 2012): 9-46
    4) Report: ISR Support to Small Footprint CT Operations – Somalia/Yemen, ISR Task Force Reg and Analysis Division Feb 2013

    For an understanding of LOAC, ROEs, SPINS, STARS, CDE, PID, etc:
    1) Targeting, Air Force doctrine document 2-1.9 8 June 2006
    2) McNeal, Gregory S., Targeted Killing and Accountability (March 5, 2014). 102 Georgetown Law Journal 681-794 (2014)
    3) Joint Fire Support, Joint Publication 3-09
    4) Commander’s Handbook for Joint Battle Damage Assessment, 1 June 2004
    5) Major James A. Burkart (JAG), Deadly Advice: Judge Advocates and Joint Targeting, The Army Lawyer, June 2016
    6) Merriam, John, Affirmative Target Identification: Operationalizing the Principle of Distinction for U.S. Warfighters (April 15, 2015).
    56:1 Virginia Journal of International Law 83 (2016).
    7) Corn, Geoffrey S. and Corn, Gary P., The Law of Operational Targeting: Viewing the LOAC Through an Operational Lens (August 21, 2011).
    Texas International Law Journal, 2012
    8) Schmitt, Michael N. and Biller, Jeffrey et al; Joint and Combined Targeting: System and Process (August 25, 2016). Weighing Lives in War (Jens Ohlin, Larry May & Claire Finkelstein eds. Oxford University Press 2017)
    9) CJCS Instruction: No-Strike and the Collateral Damage Estimation Methodology, 2012
    10) Targeting and the Law of War Administrative Investigations & Criminal Law Supplement

    To really drive this home, I recommend the following legal textbooks and treatises on the subject:
    1) Geoffrey S. Corn, Rachel E. VanLandingham et al; U.S. Military Operations
    Law, Policy, and Practice, 2015
    2) William H. Boothby and Michael N. Schmitt; The Law of Targeting, 2012
    3) Terry D. Gill and Dieter Fleck; The Handbook of the International Law of Military Operations 2nd edition, 2016
    4) William Boothby, Weapons and the Law of Armed Conflict 2nd Edition, 2016
    Australia, UK, and others have almost identical approaches.

    Now, are these followed? Yes!
    Look at any AR 15-6 investigation into CIVCAS by the US.

  2. John Marlowe on May 15, 2021 at 2:39 am

    I see little difference between death-by-drone and death-by-tank or death-by-sniper.  And I’d much rather drones be used to eliminate unreachable international terrorists than send in Seal Team Six or.The Army, Navy, Marines and US Air Force as Bush/Cheney did. 

  3. waterboy on May 15, 2021 at 2:40 am

    drones aren’t really the problem, it’s the "counter-terrorism"

  4. baba rotious on May 15, 2021 at 2:40 am


  5. Tyler Hurson on May 15, 2021 at 2:41 am

    The legality of drone warfare doesn’t matter. Is drone warfare immoral? Of course. War is a form of violence and violence is immoral.

  6. deepdragon2 on May 15, 2021 at 2:43 am

    Moral concerns for "drone warfare" what a crock of shit. Killing is killing IS KILLING…. do it or do not do it.
    If your going to kill the enemy then you DO IT and if we do not have to use our children to do this then even better.  Morality, you people really are educated IDIOTS.

  7. baba rotious on May 15, 2021 at 2:44 am

    Its cowardly for once and Ineffective for the fact that the U.S. is fighting an ideological war started by U.S. itself and by forced militancy usage of drone.

  8. Frank Manti on May 15, 2021 at 2:45 am

    Drone warfare is so cowardly.

  9. AvangionQ on May 15, 2021 at 2:51 am

    The first problem with drones is that they use explosives, rather than bullets ~ it is hard to be surgical using explosives.  The result of which is a *wildly inefficient* kill ratio between high value terrorist targets and the innocents caught up as collateral damage … +

  10. demonorse on May 15, 2021 at 2:53 am

    I’m not even gonna watch the whole video, it’s a fucking war crime, the same as the V-weapons used by Germany against England

  11. jaspertaawesome on May 15, 2021 at 2:57 am

    To take you must Give

  12. TopShot501st on May 15, 2021 at 3:01 am

    The reason drones get used is because they save lives. not the lives of the enemy, but of pilots.Civilian casualties have never been lower than today. its just that with the internet the ones that happen actually get reported for the most part. Losing a cheap drone worth in the thousands is far better than losing a multi million dollar fighter jet and a pilot to accomplish the same goal. to say that they are immoral is kinda of retarded, by that logic all warfare is immoral. Drones can mistake targets just like jets. nothing is perfect, killing is killing not matter who or what is doing it. the important thing is accountability and making sure things get followed. Is there a lot of grey area? yeah, but that is why congress and the UN needs to speed up and pass laws to regulate it. like it or not drones are the future for both civilian or military. The liberal tilt to this is hilarious btw. XD

  13. Chris R on May 15, 2021 at 3:08 am

    The primary difference between a drone and a manned aircraft is that the drone is piloted remotely. I would assume the use of both should adhere to the same rules. So what do the rules regarding the use of manned aircraft say in this regard?

  14. Das Neko on May 15, 2021 at 3:11 am

    I would say that there is another facet of Drone warfare. USA does not see spending large amount of money on weapons of war to be necessarily a bad thing so having this shift to drones is kind of like a way to give money to their friends.

  15. Ee Jay on May 15, 2021 at 3:23 am

    Fuck this guy he’s nothing but a fear monger who hates technology; fears it; therefor let’s not do anything to advance our society. Just like space. People die in space; does this mean we should stop going to space and stop science and space exploration? Let’s fear things and inhibit the progress of such things became that makes sense. I for one support any military use of drones; and it would be cool to have a pet automated quad copter ‘drone’ in the future. What a crazy conspiracy theorist

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