I always find 'Moral Maze' irritating. For all the supposed forensic analysis of issues, the combative style -- particularly of Melanie Phillips -- serves as often to obscure as clarify. Yesterday's was no exception.
Good points were made of course. I noted particularly the point that international 'rule of law' can only really deal with state-on-state conflict and not with "failed states" (however you define these) or terrorism. Pakistan may or may not be a 'failed state' but its harbouring of terrorists hugely increases the problem from a legal point of view. Then there's the concept of the 'combat zone'. Terrorists (who consider themselves to be conducting 'warfare', but are not 'states') make the whole world a 'combat zone', and drones (controlled by states that consider themselves at 'war' with terrorists) are a sadly inevitable development. That particular rot started with George Bush who talked about a 'war on terror', thereby blurring the distinction between 'war' and 'terrorism'.
What I find most chilling -- and noone on the Moral Maze dealt with this -- is the prospect of 'terrorists' or 'failed states' using drones against their enemies. The military speaker, though he didn't say it directly, implied that it's only a matter of time.
Once terrorist organisations no longer need to recruit suicide bombers to launch attacks on key UK institutions but can bomb, say, the Houses of Parliament from a bunker in Afghanistan will the increased opportunity for 'proportionality' in strikes resulting from the new technology enhance our sense of national security? Why blow up shopping malls when you can hit the politicians directly? (An appropriate thought as we approach November 5th . . .)
Maybe the moral thinking would have been made clearer if the participants had assumed that we in the UK would be on the receiving end of drone strikes. Maybe Melanie Phillips might have thought more carefully if she had considered the possibility of Palestininan rocket strikes on Israel becoming targeted drone strikes on the Knesset from some bunker somewhere in the world (and probably not in Gaza).