Targeted Killing and Drone Warfare

Authored by: Laurie Calhoun

Routledge Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies

Print publication date:  April  2016
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415743761
eBook ISBN: 9781315813462
Adobe ISBN: 9781317801627


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The controversy surrounding the use of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), or lethal drones, stems in large part from fundamental disagreements over the very nature of remote-control killing, which is new in human history. Never before was it possible for soldiers to fight wars without themselves facing the prospect of personal sacrifice. Those who believe that remote-control killing is a perfectly legitimate act of war and an important counterterrorism tactic praise the practice for preserving innocent life and minimizing collateral damage, while sparing allied soldiers the risk of physical harm. The most vocal advocates of drone warfare have maintained that targeted killing is the best – or even the only – available means for fighting the number one enemy in the twenty-first century: shadowy and fluid terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, and ISIS (Porter 2010; Bowden 2013; Byman 2013).

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