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Moral Philosopher Laurie Calhoun Challenges Complacency

Moral Philosopher Laurie Calhoun Challenges Complacency on the Use of Lethal Drones in new book, We Kill Because We Can, to be launched at the University of Otago

1 October 2015, Dunedin, Southland, New Zealand

Lethal drones, until recently a technology possessed only by the United States and Israel, are in the news every day now, as they are being acquired and deployed by more and more governments. Author Laurie Calhoun maintains that it is high time that we examine the practice of remote-control killing of suspects, which snuck in the back door of the war on terror without ever being subject to public debate. The New Zealand launch of her new book, We Kill Because We Can: From Soldiering to Assassination in the Drone Age, will be held at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin, on 21 October 2015 at 5:15pm.

New Zealanders may feel relatively safe from the endless wars in the Middle East and the recent acquisition of lethal drones by governments such as Pakistan, Nigeria, and India. But as the practice of remote-control killing becomes normalized, cautions Calhoun, Kiwis may be next in line. When New Zealander Daryl Jones was killed in Yemen by a US drone in November 2013, Prime Minister John Key brushed it off as a legitimate act of war, given that Jones was in the company of known Al Qaeda operatives.

It is only a short step from condoning drone killings to ordering them, as the case of Britain demonstrates. Once on the sidelines of US wars, British Prime Minister David Cameron authorized the elimination of two of his countrymen by lethal drone in September 2015, claiming the summary executions to be acts of national defense, despite the fact that capital punishment is prohibited by British Law and the EU Charter.

Calhoun’s new book calls into question what she terms “the new banality of killing” and criticizes the use of lethal drones on a variety of moral, legal, and strategic grounds. She also examines the cultural impact of lethal drones, the economic forces driving drone policy, and the radical change in military ethics to a “kill don’t capture” mindset. Professor Richard Jackson at the University of Otago has praised the work as “By far the best book on targeted killing and the ethics of assassinations to date... should be required reading for politicians, military planners and journalists.”

Join us to meet the author and discuss the future of lethal drones. Books will be available for sale and refreshments will be served.


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