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Amnesty International Explains Why It Won't Oppose All Drone Murders


By davidswanson - Posted on 04 November 2013

I was on Margaret Flowers' and Kevin Zeese's Clearing the Fog Radio today ( http://clearingthefogradio.org ) together with Naureen Shah of Amnesty International.  The show ought to appear soon on iTunes here, and mixcloud here, and is already on UStream here although it seems to be missing the audio.  I had earlier published a critique of AI's report on drones.

On this show, Shah explained that Amnesty International cannot oppose all drone strikes in an illegal war, because Amnesty International has never opposed a war, because doing so would make it look biased, and A.I. wants to appear to be an unbiased enforcer of the law.  But, of course, an illegal war is a violation of the law -- usually of the U.N. Charter which most lawyers whom A.I. hangs out with recognize, never mind the Kellogg-Briand Pact which they don't.

Refusing to recognize the UN Charter, in order to appear unbiased, is a twisted notion to begin with, but perhaps it had good intentions at one time.  However, now the U.N. special rapporteur finds that drones are making war the norm rather than the exception.  That's a serious shifting of the ground, and might be good reason to reconsider the ongoing feasibility of a human rights group avoiding the existence of laws against war.

Shah also argued against banning weaponized drones on the grounds that they could be used legally.  That is, there could be a legal war (ignoring Kellogg-Briand) and during that legal war a drone could legally kill people in accordance with someone's interpretation of necessity, discrimination, proportionality, intention, and so forth.  Shah contrasts this with chemical weapons, even though I could imagine a theoretical scenario in which a targeted murder in a closed space could use chemical weapons in plausible accord with all of the lawyerly notions of "legal war" other than the ban on chemical weapons.

Of course, practically speaking, weaponized drones are slaughtering and traumatizing innocent people and will do so as long as they're used.  The notion of civilizing and legalizing atrocity-free war was ludicrous enough before the age of drone murder.  It's beyond outrageous now.

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