imagine a world where everybody has drones


It is always a hard question whether new technologies require the revision of old arguments. Targeted killing isn’t new, and I am going to repeat an old argument about it. But targeted killing with drones? Here the old arguments, though they still make sense, leave me uneasy. First things first. Untargeted killing, random killing, the bomb in the supermarket, the café, or the bus station: we call that terrorism, and its condemnation is critically important. No qualifications, no apologies: this is wrongfulness of the first order. But someone who takes aim at a particular person, a political official, a military officer, is engaged in a different activity. He may be a just assassin, as in Camus’s play, though I don’t think that the justice of the killing depends on the killer’s willingness to accept death himself (which is Camus’s argument). It depends on the character of the official or the officer, the character of the regime he serves, and the immediate political circumstances: what else is there to do? But even if the assassination is a wrongful act, as it most often is in history if not in literature, the wrongfulness is of a second order.

more from Michael Walzer at Dissent here.