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Preventive ForceDrones, Targeted Killing, and the Transformation of Contemporary Warfare$
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Kerstin Fisk

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479857531

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479857531.001.0001

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Restricting the Preventive Use of Force

Restricting the Preventive Use of Force

Drones, the Struggle against Non-State Actors, and Jus ad Vim

(p.257) 10 Restricting the Preventive Use of Force
Preventive Force

John Emery

Daniel R. Brunstetter

NYU Press

We suggest light can be shed on the moral dilemmas by looking at drones as a type of preventive force that lies in the undefined security space between acts of war and acts of law-enforcement, what some scholars have been referring to as jus ad vim. Thus, ethical standards governing their use are more permissive than law enforcement, but more restrictive than war. This claim rests on the notion drone strikes against terrorist targets are typically an act of preventative force short of war, where opaque notions of imminence raise deep concerns about when such a strike is justified (in lieu of attempts to capture suspected terrorists or after such attempts have failed). In this paper, we focus on exploring what last resort means for a drone strike. We offer a moral framework that combines the standards of law enforcement – i.e. indictment (in abstention) of suspected terrorists - with a circumscribed notion of imminence to define the rare circumstances under which the preventive use of lethal drones may be legitimate. This framework speaks to the need to restrict the number of strikes to a minimum of isolated acts of preventive force, instead of pursuing the dangerous policy of a broader (preventive) drone war.

Keywords:   Drones, Non-state actors, Jus ad vim, Ethics, Philosophy, Law, Policy

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