Drone warfare: The death of precision

During the Obama presidency, precision was not just about hitting the right target, and it was more than mere accuracy. It was an ethos, one that enshrined the liberal-American desire to be just in times of war while still ensuring victory. Armed drones and the precision missiles they deployed were said to epitomize this desire. Drones were, the president stated, part of a “just war—a war waged proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense.”

These claims were contentious. People such as Nobel laureate Desmond M. Tutu declared that these weapons undermined America’s “moral standards,” and non-governmental organizations such as Airwars—which monitors civilian casualties resulting from airstrikes in Iraq, Syria, and Libya—exposed the true cost of precision. For the Obama administration, though, drones continued to offer the alluring ability to kill at a distance while mitigating the cost to innocent life. Although mistakes were made, in an age when the

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