People of faith have legitimate questions about use of lethal drones (COMMENTARY)

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An illustration of an unmanned military drone

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A unmanned military drone

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(RNS) The use of lethal drones raises questions of conscience for the religious community. People of faith have a responsibility to shine a bright light on this doubtful means of conducting war.

  • philip

    The Reverend George Hunsinger has asked , “What is moral in war?” Since man first picked up a rock to bash his fellow man’s brains out, the legality , morality, and weaponry have been debated for thousands of years. Today’s new military arsenal includes unmanned drones. The only thing that has changed is the efficiency and accuracy we use to kill our fellow human beings. Death is death; whether it’s by a drone, a fragment bomb dropped at 30,000 feet, or a crude pressure cooker in a backpack filled with nuts, bolts, nails, and some form of explosion. The end result is the same: dead men, dead women, dead children, dead everything in the kill zone.
    I know the Reverend Hunsinger has the moral high ground but, his theological understanding and war knowledge is sorely lacking. My assessment of your military knowledge stands by itself.
    It always amazes me that theologians, pastors, and priests at their houses of worship never read Deuteronomy Chapter 2: Verses 33-34, where God instructs the Israelites to kill every man, woman, and child. Please read Genesis Chapter 7; Verses 21-23 where God drowns everyone on earth, including the innocent children. Or read Samuel Chapter 15; Verses 1-9 where God commands Saul to kill every man, woman, and innocent child.
    Dear Reverend, the above is proudly told in the Bible and it is still in print as it stands today. After 2,000 years, you, as a theologian, pay homage to that God and those readings.
    Reverend, how can you condemn the killing of innocents and not condemn those passges that you uphold? It is hypocritical to say that God’s taking of innocent little boys’ and girls’ lives is different than what the human race does to itself in war.Please spare me the platitudes of, “It’s a long time ago.” or your interpretaton of what excuse God had in killing innocent children. Innocent death is innocent death! Your denial betrays what is still written in the Bible today.
    PS Behind closed doors, learned theologians know the truth. They know that is not the God that is Jesus. They know and fear if they were to remove passages, Faith might collapse. The question would become, what else did the Bible writers lie about? I know my God. Do you know yours?

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  • Larry

    To answer a major question posed:

    “Do drones cause more civilian casualties than traditional military methods?”

    Heck no!

    Traditional military methods are far more costly in terms of lives, potential for unnecessary civilian losses and damage.

    The last time the US fought a major war as a proxy to a nation’s civil conflict, against insurgents we used B-52 strikes. Big lumbering bombers which saturated the ground with massive concussive death and destruction. Thus prompting UN resolutions against indiscriminate attacks which subsequently got written into the Hague and Geneva Conventions.

    Things got scaled down a bit with smart bomb useage in the Gulf War. But even those munitions only made up a small fraction of what was actually used. Not perfectly in accordance with avoidance of indiscriminate attacks in warfare but a much greater refinement. One which avoids atrocity.

    Drones are certainly a step in the right direction from there. As weapons of war, they are far more discriminating and capable of limiting unnecessary damages than anything else that flies.

    From a perspective based on rules of warfare, accepted by nations through the ages, drones comply with them on a level few other weapons can.

    As for the morality of war in general, I can go into detail on that. I find pacifism is not a viable idea outside of personal actions. Condemning all warfare as immoral actually provides license for atrocity. If everything is damnable, why bother limiting one’s conduct or worrying about unnecessary casualties and cruelty?