Tamar Meisels: Targeted Killing with Drones? Old Arguments, New Technologies

20. 10. 2017. Belgrade
Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory (4th floor)

Introduction: Srđan Prodanović (IFDT)

Moderation: Aleksandar Fatić (IFDT)

The question of how to contend with terrorism in keeping with our pre-existing moral and legal commitments now challenges Europe as well as Israel and the United States: how do we apply Just War Theory and International Law to asymmetrical warfare, specifically to our counter terrorism measures? What can the classic moral argument in Just and Unjust Wars teach us about contemporary targeted killings with drones?

I begin with a defense of targeted killing, arguing for the advantages of pin pointed attacks over any alternative measure available for combatting terrorism. Assuming the legitimacy of killing combatants in wartime, I argue, there is nothing wrong, and in fact much that is right, with targeting particular terrorists selected by name, as long as their assassinations can be reasonably expected to reduce terrorist hostilities rather than increase it. Subsequently, I offer some further thoughts and comments on the use of remotely piloted aircrafts to carry out targeted killings, and address the various sources for discomfort with this practice identified by Michael Walzer and others.

Tamar Meisels is a professor of Political Theory in the department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University. She earned her D.Phil. in Politics from Oxford University in 2001. Her primary research and teaching interests include liberal nationalism, territorial rights, and the philosophical questions surrounding war and terrorism. She is the author of Territorial Rights (2005, 2009); The Trouble with Terror (Cambridge University Press, 2008), Contemporary Just War: Theory and Practice(Routledge, 2017), and co-editor (with Michael L. Gross) of Soft war – the Ethics of Unarmed Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 2017).