The National Catholic Review

Tonight’s debate moderator, CBS News’ Bob Scheiffer, did ask about the use of drones, but failed to press either candidate on the controversial issue.

Here’s the question:

Let me ask you, Governor, because we know President Obama's position on this, what is -- what is your position on the use of drones?

This is what Romney said:

Well, I believe that we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it's widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that entirely and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology and believe that we should continue to use it to continue to go after the people who represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.

I had hoped the moderator would challenge President Obama’s expanding drone warfare program, grilling him on the morality, legality, and accuracy of these remote-controlled killers, and then apply the same set of questions to Romney.

How many civilians have been unjustly killed in Pakistan and around the world? Will the expansion of secret drone programs put the world in an endless state of war, eliminating the traditional costs, both financial and human, that have traditionally tempered nations? Who is held accountable when things go wrong? How are drones hurting our image abroad? As we kill and maim civilians, are we creating new generations of enemies?

We seem to be entering a new phase of modern warfare, and there are huge ethical questions that remain unanswered. The American people haven’t had a chance to weigh in on this important issue, and it’s disconcerting that both parties seem to have endorsed this new technology whole-heartedly without offering education and explanation.

Read more: America editorial, Drone War Under Law

Comments

Thomas Rooney OFS | 10/23/2012 - 10:31am
The idea of drones with less US personnel at risk and far less monetary risk sounds wonderful on the surface.  My fear with drones is that it will make us forget the human cost of war; WHY war ought to always be a last resort.  I believe making it easier and less expensive to make war will make diplomacy less urgent.  Why talk?  Saber rattling is far more efficient.

We can't be expected to be seen as a moral world leader if this is our future policy.
T BLACKBURN | 10/23/2012 - 9:58am
Thank you, Michael, for noticing. I guess I am in a distinct minority, but i believe this heedless notion that the president may kill anyone any time he decides a person needs killing, so long as he does it with a drone beyond our borders, and that he can do it without prior or after-the-fact judicial review is unprecedented, unconstitutional, immoral and sure to bring down hellfire when other countries get drones and can shoot back.

But when the evil is embraced by both of these sad excuses for statesmen, there seems to be no way to raise it in a campaign and no way to vote against it. Last night they were  a pair of bobblehead dolls agreeing on executive assassination. It is an evil we will just have to live with. Until it comes home to roost.
David Pasinski | 10/23/2012 - 9:45am
Agreed... it was an opening that Bob Schieffer didn't follow up on...The drones will come home to roost, I fear...
ed gleason | 10/26/2012 - 5:05pm
The CIA is now saying they had drones present over Benghazi the night of the attack. they did not strike because it was downtown Benghazi, there were no clear targets etc. FOX news is saying this was an Administration failure. So lets hear from the anti-drone people who insist on calling these weapons assassinations, in the war on terror. A little consistency would make for better arguments folks.  
James O'Brien | 10/23/2012 - 5:44am
Thank you Michael for asking these important questions.
David Smith | 10/26/2012 - 3:03am
Remote-control killing as a scarcely questioned element of US foreign policy is a consequence of a spiritual emptiness in government leaders. I suppose Romney'd been told that if drones came up in the debates, he had to go along or lose votes. Obama's advisors no doubt told him the same. Elections in the polling age seem to turn politicians into pure idiots. Perhaps if Romney's elected, he'll feel free to pull back on this. Obama has already shown that he probably won't.

The drone phenomenon is an excellent point on which to start to build a dialogue about the moral obligations of our democratically controlled government. Do we always acquiesce in whatever the government does, because politicians and military leaders know best? Usually, but not always. Enough people drew the line at Vietnam, but, then, there was a draft. If there had been no draft, would the kids have cared all that much? I suspect not. If it's somebody else's ox that's being gored, we're too happy to turn a blind eye.