Welcome to Kalamna, the student blog of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Future of Warfare

Last week, NYU Law School held a forum related to drone technology, entitled "The Morality and Legality of Targeted Killings: From Bin Laden to al-Awlaki."

Some questions that were addressed included: "Does either the U.S. Constitution or international law permit targeted killings, whether or not the target is a U.S. national? Does it matter whether the US government engages in such acts only on a recognized battlefield (e.g., Afghanistan vs. Yemen or Pakistan), uses particular methods (unmanned drones vs. members of the U.S. military), or does so only with the consent of the territorial sovereign?"

Countries like the U.S., Russia, Israel, China, India, Pakistan and Mexico are increasingly relying on drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) for different purposes, including targeted assassinations. The Mexican government uses drones to survey drug traffickers. A separate aspect of drone technology is its potential to save lives on the battlefield by evacuating wounded soldiers more efficiently.

Some researchers are in the process of developing fully autonomous drones, which will operate independently without human guidance. It is not clear how long it will take until those drones are fully operational; one scientist argued that it would take at least 50 years to reach that point.

To many, this drone technology brings to mind dystopian science fiction like the works of Phillip K. Dick. An effort has recently been made to prevent an international drone arms race, although no treaty has been signed.

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