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Sun Jan 6, 2013, 03:04 PM

The Moral Case for Drones [View all]

AVERY PLAW, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts, put the C.I.A. drone record in Pakistan up against the ratio of combatant deaths to civilian deaths in other settings. Mr. Plaw considered four studies of drone deaths in Pakistan that estimated the proportion of civilian victims at 4 percent, 6 percent, 17 percent and 20 percent respectively.

But even the high-end count of 20 percent was considerably lower than the rate in other settings, he found. When the Pakistani Army went after militants in the tribal area on the ground, civilians were 46 percent of those killed. In Israel’s targeted killings of militants from Hamas and other groups, using a range of weapons from bombs to missile strikes, the collateral death rate was 41 percent, according to an Israeli human rights group.

In conventional military conflicts over the last two decades, he found that estimates of civilian deaths ranged from about 33 percent to more than 80 percent of all deaths.

“Look at the firebombing of Dresden, and compare what we’re doing today,” Mr. Crumpton said. “The public’s expectations have been raised dramatically around the world, and that’s good news.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/sunday-review/the-moral-case-for-drones.html?_r=0

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