Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 76

Drones, Honor, and War Cora Sol Goldstein, PhD D rones have become a symbol of the new American approach to warfare. Yet, the American use of weaponized drones has elicited vocal and persistent criticism both at home and abroad. While majorities in the United States and Israel continue to approve the use of drone strikes, the Pew Research Center polls from 2014 indicate that majorities or pluralities in thirty-nine of forty-four countries surveyed have misgivings about U.S. drone strikes. The strongest disapproval is registered in Venezuela (92 percent), Jordan (90 percent), Greece (89 percent), Nicaragua (88 percent), Egypt (87 percent), Argentina (87 percent), Brazil (87 percent), Colombia (86 percent), Senegal (86 percent), Spain (86 percent), the Palestinian territories (84 percent), Turkey (83 percent), and Japan (82 percent). In France, 72 percent disapprove of drone strikes, and in Germany, 67 percent disapprove.1 It is not that drones have allowed the killing of more people than prior technology did, but rather that they have made possible targeted killing conducted remotely—eliminating risk for the attacker but bringing up a host of new questions about war, morality, a nd killing. The national and international press coverage of U.S. drone strikes emphasizes not only the efficiency of 70 drones but also the dangers associated with their use. The United States is often characterized, much as it was during the Cold War, as an all-powerful and arrogant nation that exploits its technological supremacy without concern for human rights or human life. The morality of American foreign policy is being put into question. The drone is often taken to represent everything that is wrong with the recent American wars, and maybe with American culture. A growing body of literature on the robotic revolution in warfare focuses on the tactical successes of drones as military weapons and on their potential strategic problems. In this article, however, I am interested not in discussing the military capabilities of drones, but rather in examining the perception of drones in critical discourse. My contention is that there is an assumption, often explicitly voiced, that by using drones, the United States is in fact fighting in a cowardly fashion. In general terms, violence in war is deemed acceptable, and even honorable, when personal confrontation is involved, and when opposing forces are assumed to share equivalent risks. There is a discrepancy between contemporary technological warfare, exemplified by November-December 2015  MILITARY REVIEW