Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 81

MACRO-ETHICS idea of probe-sense-respond in order to discover emerging practices. For argument’s sake, let us assume that the current use of drones is an example of probing. Should we amplify it? To answer these questions, let us consider the views of Lt. Col. Douglas A. Pryer, as presented in a paper in Military Review in 2013. Pryer maintains that drones tend to perpetuate war and endanger our nation.44 He states that using drones to wage war by proxy may not be unethical (morally prohibited), but it is unwise.45 According to Pryer, waging war in this way may be good tactics, but it is bad strategy because it can destroy the possibility of a lasting peace by creating undue fear and trauma in enemy territory.46 At first glance, this may appear to be a good outcome; we want our enemies to fear us. Nevertheless, it may have unforeseen strategic consequences. For example, Pryer asserts that drones may create more terrorists.47 He cites a 2012 Pew Research Center publication saying that from 2009 to 2012, the number of Pakistanis who considered the United States to be the enemy rose sharply, to 74 percent.48 According to Pryer, this period corresponded with increased drone strikes.49 He cites data showing a similar correlation in Yemen.50 Pryer concludes that fighting remotely may, on the surface, appear to save lives.51 However, in reality, using drones fuels terrorist attacks that cost more lives in the end.52 If we consider our use of drones as an example of probing to find effective tactics that are ethically permissible, or at least ethically dubious, then we can conclude this probing is producing an undesirable strategic outcome. Should we abandon it? Additionally, as noted, the use of drones delegitimizes our narrative and undermines our counterinsurgency goals by producing international and domestic outrage due to the collateral damage drones cause in terms of dead civilians. Moreover, with regard to propaganda generated by our enemies’ global sympathizers, the use of drones in general is used to depict Americans as cowards who kill from afar, which feeds the general anti-American and anti-Western narrative. Consequently, a morally permissible action we are using at the tactical level is producing results that run counter to our overall strategic goals and to a morally acceptable outcome—because it is not shortening the conflict. MILITARY REVIEW  September-October 2014 Another consequence is that the use of drones is atrophying our strategic and moral judgment. Who among our leaders is thinking strategically and therefore macro-ethically? For example, what is the long-term strategic goal behind the long-distance killing of what are currently regarded as legitimate targets? Does this tactical decision lead to that goal? Or, are we becoming complacent, using an analysis suited for making decisions in an obvious domain but not for a complex domain? In using drones, are we, therefore, in danger of falling over the cliff into moral as well as operational chaos with regard to our fight against terrorists in areas where we are using drones? Conclusion Complexity is at the heart of many, if not most, strategic-level decisions. Like the strategic corporal example, seemingly small tactical actions can have far-reaching strategic implications. Conversely, through technology, generals and presidents can make tactical decisions at the risk of ignoring the likely strategic outcome. This highlights that our profession of arms requires leaders at all levels to understand and visualize their operational environments—the higher the level, the larger the environment. Hence, the need for macro-ethics. As our environments grow ever larger and more complex, leaders need to understand, visualize, and more closely consider the strategic outcomes of their tactical decisions using macro-ethics as a guide. Leaders need to acknowledge that certain otherwise morally permissible acts on the tactical level could have grave moral consequences on the strategic level. Conversely, morally dubious acts on the tactical level may produce morally desirable consequences on the strategic level. A useful tool to navigate this complex situation is the Cynefin Framework which helps frame complex macro-ethical considerations. By using ethical probes,