Carrie Johnson in sums up a report by the Stimson Center, a nonpartisan Washington think tank that includes a number of former Pentagon and C.I.A. officials. It contends that the U.S. policy of using armed drones to carry out attacks on suspected terrorists "rests on questionable assumptions and risks increasing instability and escalating costs."

The year-long study reveals that after a decade of using armed drones, the American government has not carried out a thorough assessment of whether or not these secret killings are stemming the tide of terrorism. The report calls for greater transparency about drone operations and a listing of militants and civilians killed in the strikes. The Stimson panel also indicated grave fears about the dangerous precedent being set by the United States in conducting lethal strikes outside areas of active hostilities. Other countries may follow suit and target those who oppose them wherever they are.

From a spiritually literate perspective, it is imperative that we see the validity and ethical guidelines implied by the Stimson report. Many in the military say that drone strikes are here to stay, yet these targeted killing operations have resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians. This is very troubling to the soul since it means we are living and will continue to live in a perpetual state of war.

In her book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control, Medea Benjamin makes a good case against these weapons:

"Drones don't revolutionize warfare; they are, rather, a progressive evolution in making murder clean and easy. That's why the increased reliance on drones for killing and spying is not to be praised, but refuted. And challenged."

The Stimson report doesn't refute the drone program but it asks some worthwhile ethical questions about it. We should all do the same.

Next Post: Heroes Who Practice "Mercy Medicine"