TEXAS FAITH 84: The morality of drone warfare

Dallas Morning News,

Dallas Morning News,

Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

“Drone warfare. It’s become a major new way to fight battles. Except those doing the fighting may be in a cubicle in a town here in the United States. In fact, the chances are they will be working here, far from the battlefield.

Of course, the good news is the soldiers operating the drones are not in harm’s way. Nor are they spending months, if not years, away from their families in a distant country.

But they are using the advances in technology to track and kill people halfway around the world. This new form of warfare has raised a number of moral questions. This collection of posts from Andrew Sullivan on the subject provides an insight into some issues in play. And here is another link worth looking at from the Wall Street Journal.

Also, the Journal reported this week in a front-page article that there is not much international law on this subject. That vacuum matters in numerous ways, but especially when it comes to determining whether we are actually declaring war on nations that only tacitly give us approval to use drones in their countries.

I am not looking for applications of international law here, but I would like to hear how your faith informs your thinking about drone

strikes. So, here’s this week’s question:

What moral issues, if any, give you pause about drone warfare?

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas 

In the ancient Vedic culture, a true soldier is brave. The leader stands in front of the battle. Battles happen on battlegrounds, rather than cities. Generals would fight those of similar abilities. No merchants, laborers, or others could become soldiers, rather only those who have the qualities of a soldier and life- long training of a soldier are allowed to fight.

Thus the fighting does not involve anyone but actual brave warriors. Like the ancient samurai, there was a code of honor. Enemies would even dine together during evening as fighting took place only during the day.

Drone warfare is a sign of the times. In this age there is no sense duty but rather only cowardice. Duty means behavior that benefits all. But as selfishness increases, we abandon duty for immediate personal benefit.

The only way members of society can develop behaviors that are dutiful is by becoming spiritually satisfied. As long as there is no spiritual satisfaction, people will abandon higher principles for fleeting personal benefit.

To see all responses of the TEXAS Faith panel click here.