Lord Paddy Ashdown’s drone piece in the Times (of London) is, as the Brits like to say, “spot on.”
Lord Ashdown noted:
The current debate about drones is, no doubt fired by the same intention. And with good reason. Drones have become the weapon of choice of President Obama and – perhaps especially – of his new CIA Director, the rather scary looking Mr John Brennan. The issue is now a matter of hot debate on the other side of the Atlantic and, increasingly here too. Some call for constraints; others for clear guide lines; others still for a new international treaty governing their use, as we had for cluster bombs. Given that drones are (relatively) new and offer commanders new choices, this debate is all, no doubt perfectly healthy – provided it is properly rational.
But that’s the problem – so far it hasn’t been. The result is that misunderstanding – even perhaps deliberate mis-representation – are clouding the real issues involved.
He ended by saying
Drones may be new. But they come from a long line that goes back to the Roman trebuchet. In contemplating their use we should doubtless carefully consider how the old laws and practices apply. But we do not need new ones.
Weapons come and weapons go, but rest assured – we will always have weapons, and we will always use them to defend ourselves. Inventing differing sets of rules for different weapons just adds to the already burdensome plethora of regulations that restricts our defense department. There is enough legal precedent and regulation out there to make sure our weapons inventory is appropriately used.
So enough of this hype on drones – they have their utility and we ought to take advantage of them, legally, under the provisions already in force.
I encourage you to read the whole of Lord Ashdown’s oped here (subscription required)
And of couse read our lastest work on drones here.