Joystick Warfare: The Drone Dilemma

Peter W. Singer
Peter W. Singer Former Brookings Expert, Strategist and Senior Fellow - New America

December 8, 2011

Editor’s Note: In an interview on Around the World with Christiane Amanpour, Peter Singer discusses the increase of unmanned military systems and the future of drone warfare for the United States.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: How much is this deadly “videogame” [drone warfare] going to really supplant traditional warfare as we go forward?

PETER SINGER: We’re seeing more and more unmanned systems used in war but at its very nature, war stays the same. It’s still humans at the center. Humans are still operating the systems. Where the videogame side is important to me, is not so much in the fighting of wars but how the public is starting to look at war itself. It’s the public that’s becoming disengaged from its wars, not the military.

AMANPOUR: Obviously it’s controversial. Some are calling it, especially in the human rights sphere, basically extrajudicial killing. Is there a legal battle that’s going to be fought as this goes on?

SINGER: Where the technology comes in in this, is how it changes the way senior policymakers look at these operations. There’s a great illustration between how we describe the Bin Laden raid – where the President’s advisors said this was the ultimate gutsy call to put boots on the ground, compared to the more than 300 drone strikes in Pakistan, where it wasn’t looked at as a gutsy call. It was looked at as something that was quite easy by comparison.

Watch the full interview »