We must ban use of drone weapons
The tragedy at Lake Annecy shocked us all. Just imagine going on holiday in the family caravan, only to be assassinated in what appeared to be a random attack.
Like the carnage in Norway last year, it is the random nature of such horror that strikes us most forcefully.
It could have been me or you. It could have been anyone and it could well happen again.
Thou shalt not kill is a pretty fundamental rule in most societies. But murder and maiming of innocent bystanders frequently occurs as a result of the use of stealth bombers or drone missiles in Afghanistan.
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Drone weapons are popular with military commanders. They achieve their aims without any loss of allied manpower and can be seen as "clean" weapons.
Barack Obama apparently made a point of personally authorising their deployment in his weekly briefing of service chiefs.
However, drone missiles are not clean.
Targetting enemy positions from the other side of the world runs the risk of hitting a wedding party instead of a terrorist cell, or mistaking a hospital for a military settlement.
About 3,000 civilians were killed in Afghanistan between 2004 and September this year in this sort of attack, 176 of them children.
No wonder drone missiles lead to resentment and hatred of America for using them.
I object to drone warfare also because it lowers the threshold of moral responsibility.
Every soldier learns to kill, but not mindlessly.
At some point, moral conscience kicks in, so that they rebel when told to shoot children or set fire to churches full of refugees.
But with drone missiles, no one can see the effect on the intended target – only a blip on the radar screen.
No qualms of conscience when old people or children become accidental casualties.
All warfare is regrettable and, to some degree, immoral, but some ways of waging it are patently worse than others.
Atomic weapons are clearly indiscriminate in the damage they inflict. Upwards of 200,000 people died as a result of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Most countries are committed to banning their use.
Likewise, the use of chemical and biological weapons has been banned by international treaties.
I would like to see a similar ban on the use of all drone weapons. Drones intensify anti-American attitudes throughout the Muslim world.
It is said that the death of the American ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was in response to the killing of a Taliban leader in a "successful" drone attack in Afghanistan.
A good man and his aides may have been singled out in retaliation for the carnage caused by drone weapons, approved by President Obama.
Let us hope President Romney will reject the use of all such misguided missiles.
Malcolm Elliott, Leicester.