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Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 23, Issue 2, Fall 2016

Bioethics

Robert Paul Churchill
Pages 71-81

Armed Drone Warfare
Mythology, Mental Health, and Cultural Violence

The United States is now relying on Reaper and Predator drone strikes as its primary strategy in the continuing “war on terrorism.” This paper argues for the rational scrutiny drone warfare has not yet received. Rather than a Just War critique, my focus is on the rhetoric used to justify drone warfare as the technologically most efficient and militarily appropriate response to terrorist threats. This rationalizing rhetoric evokes mythical claims about American exceptionalism. Myths in turn trigger linguistic frames that have the effect of subverting rational thinking about the ethical uses of technology and the best ways of defending America from terrorists. I conclude by noting the seriousness of this investigation for the present debate over armed drone warfare, for—given the reasons I present—rather than a long-term reduction in the likelihood of terrorists strikes, the U.S.’s reliance on armed drones strikes threatens to institutionalize terrorism as the status quo for the foreseeable future.

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