Don't check it very often, so thanks for the tip. FYI, on unevenly updated or not very standard blogs like 3QD, you'll sometimes have to search around for the old label "permalink" to find the URL for a pertickler post. Just tweeted it: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2013/02/the-quarterly-dag-3qd-peace-and-justice-symposium-drones.html

Most of us want to be against torture and killing children and other living things, and in favor of human rights and the rule of law, Sr. Cervantes.

Useful article, and typical of the treatment of these issues by academic partisans of universal human rights law. She fails to distinguish between conventional and unconventional warfare sensibly, and instead substitutes the rubric "total war" for the latter, which effectively equates mass targeting of civilian populations and attempted annihilation of enemy states with extra- or quasi-legal attacks on extra-legal individual fighters. The enemy states - Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan - subject to total war were states that had flagrantly violated the then existing war conventions especially regarding the targeting of civilians, an act which was always understood by parties to the treaties to put the violator's own citizens at risk. The Nazis not only violated those conventions, they treated them as somehow decadent and inimical to their interest. Total war was a positive goal for them, as was the total state, and they got the former at the expense of the latter. The terrorist likewise denies the validity of the war convention and asserts his own notion of just war, and is very much a crypto-totalitarian. The difference is that he doesn't possess a state, and, unlike the fascist solders, rather than merely violating the war convention, he never observes it at all. Under both old and new regimes he is a war criminal, but a war criminal is a criminal in war, not "merely" a criminal.

Her discussion of "perfidy," in which the drone bombardier is like a sniper only worse, is typical of her method. "Perfidy" against a uniformed combatant of a state capable of being treated as a "just enemy" as under the older war conventions is very different from the same conduct against an "unjust" or "perfidious" enemy, as reflected in the special and harsh treatment of spies and other out-of-uniform combatants, subject to summary execution and denied other privileges afforded regular prisoners of war. (Snipers have also been subject to harsh "battlefield justice" - i.e., outside the war convention.) The basic difference was central to both older and newer regimes, a major part of what war conventions are supposed to address in the first place. The writer certainly knows this very well, but, perhaps for the sake of reducing her article to op-ed form, she chooses to ignore the difficulty in her own argument in order to press her polemical point more "cleanly."

It's political perfidy. She's a partisan disguised as an academic. It's a good disguise, and most of us want to be on her side. The problem is that the very criminalization of war that her fellow partisans have been seeking is what has produced this situation in which the only war that takes place is "criminal" in the sense of being outside the legal regime. The new war convention ends up covering everything, so it covers nothing.