Drone Strikes Do Not War Make

Lawfare blogger Ritika Singh courageously posted the entirety of a partly-critical response to her meta-study on drone strike casualties. The response, from Gabor Rona of Human Rights First, makes some of the points I tried to make in my takedown of Joshua Foust’s reporting on the Human Rights Watch targeted killing report:

I wish Ritika had put a bit more underlying law into her analysis, starting with the legal significance of the word civilian. She notes that ‘civilian’ is not the same as ‘protected from targeting under the law,’ since “a civilian directly participating in hostilities can be lawfully targeted under the laws of war.” That statement perhaps assumes, but is missing a critical element: “in an armed conflict.” And that raises the most basic question of all about the context of a drone attack: “is it war?” Because if it isn’t, the contradistinction between “civilian” and “combatant” (or militant) simply doesn’t apply; nor does the concept of “direct participation in hostilities.” Nor, for that matter, does the acceptability of “proportionate collateral damage.” Instead, outside of war extrajudicial killing is permitted only if the target poses an imminent threat to American lives that cannot be ameliorated through non-lethal means.

Read the full response at Lawfare.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: