Sunday 11 March 2012

"... but not before it kills you."

But on the merits, the executive authority Holder asserted is deeply disturbing in the days of lethal strikes by unmanned drones. Garry Wills argued in Bomb Power that the nature of the Presidency was fundamentally altered with the introduction of the nuclear bomb; but in some ways, drones may ultimately mark an even more tectonic change. The nuclear bomb is so devastating that it cannot realistically be deployed (and has not been used since we dropped them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, killing more than 200,000 people). The drone, by contrast, can be deployed, and has been, with increasing frequency. It allows for relatively pinpoint targeting, and the collection of detailed intelligence about suspects’ whereabouts so that, at least in theory, collateral damage can be limited. And perhaps most significant of all, those directing the drone—from computer screens at military bases thousands of miles away—face no risk of loss of life. Thus, the built-in check on killing, namely, that the one engaged in the killing risks being killed himself, is gone. 

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