The Killing of Qassem Soleimani and Drone Proof Cities

by Leanne Ogasawara


It was at the height of Obama’s massive acceleration of George W’s drone program, when city planner Asher J Kohn began imagining his drone-proof “Shura City.” He did this, he said, “Out of the realization that the law had no response to drone warfare.” And so he came up with his concept of Shura City, ostensibly in the hope that by rendering military drones less efficient for “apprehending” targets in the Middle East, the US would be forced to return to police actions under international law.

The reaper drone that carried out the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on January 2 was part of a military program that had its origins in the pilotless hot-air balloons the Austrians used to bomb Venice in the late 19th century, as well as experimental remote control airplanes developed in the First World War. But, in terms of application and ethical issues, they are mainly seen as an extension of the aerial bombing campaigns of WWII.

Aerial bombing was a game changer in war: no longer would the world watch as two armies faced off on a battlefield–for the future was of indiscriminate bombing of cities from above. The line between combatant and non-combatants was effectively blurred forever with aerial bombing –and, not surprisingly, civilian deaths skyrocketed.

When viewed from this history, targeted drone strikes seem a natural and more efficient way to kill an enemy. Read more »