Colin Kenny, the Canadian Senator and military hawk, has come out this week in favour of the Canadian government buying armed drones.
In an opinion piece in the National Post, Kenny claimed that armed drones could be used in coastal defence. An armed drone could fire a missile across a ship’s bow if necessary, to ‘send it on its way’, he claimed. How the unarmed drone would determine the nature of the ship and its intentions he didn’t explain.
Likewise he claimed that the ‘bad guys’ could be separated from the good guys at 40,000 feet, but he didn’t explain how that would happen. In Afghanistan the US has had a great deal of trouble separating the bad guys from groups of foraging children, or even their own soldiers, but then THEY have option of killing everyone regardless and not explaining themselves afterwards. Presumably Mr. Kenny isn’t suggesting that Canada follows that option.
Kenny later acknowledged, then brushed off the ethical issues involved in operating armed drones, including the ethical and legal problems of extrajudicial assassination. His support for drones was enthusiastic, despite having earlier acknowledged that Canada’s drone use in the Afghanistan occupation had experienced previously undisclosed ‘teething problems’.
Kenny, like many others, subscribes to the fantasy view of drones as sexy technological solutions to problems that normally require hard, sometimes dangerous work. Unfortunately, as the death toll of civilians in Afghanistan and elsewhere rises, that fantasy view is becoming unsupportable.