Jonathan Fryer

A Drone Too Far?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 8th September, 2015

drone attackdrones ObamaIt was recently revealed that the RAF used an unmanned drone to kill two British ISIS fighters based in Raqqa in Syria last month. Now Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has declared that the Government would not hesitate to repeat the action. I loathe ISIS and its perverted ideology as much as anyone, but British use of drones for targeted killings in a country with which we are not even officially at war leaves me deeply uneasy. It is noteworthy that Dominic Grieve, former Attorney General and one of the relatively good guys within the parliamentary Conservative Party, has warned that such drone strikes could be challenged on human rights grounds. Already Amnesty International’s Director Kate Allen has issued a statement saying, “it is extremely alarming that the UK has apparently been conducting summary executions from the air. In following the United States down a lawless road of remote-controlled summary killings from the sky the RAF has crossed a line.” I agree. I have been deeply concerned by the way that President Obama has increasingly relied on drones to carry out military operations (so much for his Nobel Peace Prize) and am dismayed that Britain is now following suit. If it is legitimate for Western countries to use such methods then how can one criticise others from doing the same? As Kate Allen says, “if we allow this to become the norm, we could have countries all over the world conducting aerial execution of perceived enemies on the basis of secret, unchallengeable evidence.” Drones have many legitimate civilian uses, as well as a role to play in military surveillance. But as unmanned killers from the sky that can be targeted precisely at whoever some power wishes to annihilate they are for me a step too far.

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