by Maryann Cusimano Love for The Washington Post
The Obama administration argues that the U.S. drone program is legal and moral. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday of the administration’s policy, “These strikes are legal, they are ethical and they are wise.” Legally, they cite the congressional authorization of force in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the president’s ability to authorize covert operations.
Morally, they cite Just War Tradition (JWT). St. Augustine never imagined a world in which unmanned aircraft could kill people from the skies. But these ancient moral codes can still provide guidance in robot war.
JWT is a centuries-old guide to thinking about when and how it can ever by morally justifiable to violate the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” JWT holds that we retain our moral compass even during warfare. It is on this basis that the U.S. military can court martial soldiers for murder or massacres even during wartime killing. War is not an excuse that lets us “off the hook” of our obligations to protect human life and dignity. JWT stakes out the middle ground between pacifism, which never allows war, and realpolitik, which always allows war…