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Hitting the Target? How New Capabilities are Shaping International Intervention

By Michael Aaronson and Adrian Johnson
Whitehall Reports, 25 March 2013
Aerospace, Pakistan, The Pakistan Nexus, The War on Terror, Global Security Issues, Law and Ethics, Terrorism
Unmanned technologies have stirred up a great debate about intervention and the conduct of war. It is vital to separate judgement of technology, however, from that of policy

While the US drone-strikes programme is under renewed scrutiny, remotely piloted aircraft are but one element of modern precision-strike capability. Military action in Mali, Libya and elsewhere has demonstrated the continuing, critical reliance on advanced technological capabilities in modern Western intervention.

This raises a number of important questions about the thresholds for military intervention, the way it is carried out, and its consequences; in particular, whether ethical, legal, and policy frameworks have kept up with the pace of technological change, and how this affects the behaviour of those responsible for policy and for its implementation on the ground. Although intervention is a political act, and many of the activities that constitute contemporary military intervention are not new, some argue that unmanned capabilities will lead to a shift in the ease and conduct of warfare.

‘Hitting the Target?’, produced with the Centre for International Intervention at the University of Surrey, considers the issues of media and public perception, including new data on British attitudes towards drone strikes; the technological, ethical and legal issues of unmanned capability; and a detailed assessment of targeted killing as a strategy.

Contents

Introduction
Michael Aaronson and Adrian Johnson

The Public View: British Attitudes to Drone Warfare and Targeted Killing
Joel Faulkner Rogers

The Five Most Common Media Misrepresentations of UAVs
Ulrike Esther Franke

Remotely Piloted Aircraft and International Law
Nathalie Weizmann

Can New Capabilities be Illegitimate?

Tele-operated Weapons Systems: Safeguarding Moral Perception and Responsibility
Alex Leveringhaus and Tjerk de Greef

Casualty Recording as an Evaluative Capability: Libya and the Protection of Civilians
Jacob Beswick and Elizabeth Minor

Precision-Strike Technology and Counter-Terrorism: Conflating Tactical Efficiency with Strategic Effectiveness?
Conway Waddington

Dead on Target? The Strategic Dead End of Targeted Killing as a Way of War
Armin Krishnan

Drone Use in Counter-Insurgency and Counter-Terrorism: Policy or Policy Component?
David Hastings Dunn and Stefan Wolff

Developing New Capabilities: The European Imperative
Tom Dyson

Conclusion
Michael Aaronson and Adrian Johnson

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