MODERN WARFARE: Resources from Carnegie Council

March 20, 2014

Artist's impression of a drone at 30,000 ft via Shutterstock

The battlefield has changed dramatically in the 100 years since Carnegie Council was founded. Following its original mission, the organization continues to promote moral leadership and dialogue concerning conflict and war. We present some of our best materials that discuss the ethics of modern warfare and what new technology and structural changes mean for peace and stability.


The Future of American Warfighting: Lessons of the Contemporary Battlefield
Noah Shachtman, The Daily Beast; Patrick J. Mahaney, Jr., Council on Foreign Relations; Ben FitzGerald, Center for a New American Security; Carl Colby, Carl Colby Films
What are the ethical and legal questions raised by unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, and surveillance? How do they affect combatants, decision-makers, and civilians? An expert panel explores these crucial issues. (February 2014, U.S. Global Engagement Program, transcript, audio and video)

See No Evil: Drones and Public Opinion
John Kaag, University of Massachussets, Lowell; Sarah Kreps, Cornell University
When it comes to drone strikes, Americans often have to juggle two mutually exclusive beliefs. On the one hand, only a quarter of respondents believe that drone strikes are legal. On the other, an astounding majority of people still approve of these targeting practices. (October 2013, Ethics & International Affairs blog post)

Drones: Legal, Ethical, and Wise?
Joel H. Rosenthal, Carnegie Council President
The U.S. drone program raises serious ethical concerns, particularly about accountability and due process. Congress, with support from President Obama, must develop new oversight rules to ensure that U.S. values are safeguarded. (March 2013, Christian Science Monitor and Carnegie Ethics Online article)

The New Assassination Bureau: On the 'Robotic Turn' in Contemporary War
Caroline Kennedy, The University of Hull; Nicholas Rengger, St Andrews University
When the film "2001" first came out, the plot—in which a robot faces an ethical decision—seemed like pure science fiction. Today it's becoming reality. This essay examines the legal and ethical dilemmas created by increasing automation in warfare, including what the authors believe is the most problematic area of contemporary war: the use of drones. (November 2012, Carnegie Ethics Online article)

The Implications of Drones on the Just War Tradition [Abstract]
Daniel Brunstetter, University of Califonia, Irvine; Megan Braun, Oxford University
The aim of this article is to explore how the brief history of drone warfare thus far affects and potentially alters the parameters of ad bellum and in bello just war principles. (September 2011, Ethics & International Affairs article)

Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century
P.W. Singer, Brookings Institution
Once the stuff of science fiction, robotics are already changing the way wars are being fought, says P.W. Singer. How will they affect the politics, economics, laws, and ethics of warfare? (February 2009, Public Affairs, transcript, audio, and video)


Ethics Matter: A Conversation with Sebastian Junger
Sebastian Junger, Author
Journalist Sebastian Junger knows about war from the inside: the horror and pain, the excitement and heightened awareness, and the fierce brotherhood between soldiers. In this moving conversation he talks about his life and work, and ponders on what everyone owes their country, whether they choose to fight or stay home. (March 2014, Ethics Matter, transcript, audio, and video).
See also Junger's 2011 talk, WAR.

Ethics Matter: The Future of War, with Andrew Exum
Andrew Exum, Boston Consulting Group
Andrew Exum is a scholar, author, and former U.S. Army officer. In this revealing talk, he describes, in vivid detail, his days leading platoons in Iraq and Afghanistan; insights gained while working at the Pentagon; the successes and failures of America's counterinsurgency efforts; and the growing civilian-military divide, especially in the Northeast. (December 2013, Ethics Matter, transcript, audio, TV show, and video)


Rules of Engagement: The Legal, Ethical and Moral Challenges of the Long War
Kenneth Anderson, American University; Charles Blanchard, U.S. Air Force; Robert Grenier, CIA; Carl Colby, Carl Colby Films; David Johnson, Act 4 Entertainment
Can the drone campaign be legally and morally justified? What are the limits to the president's authority when it comes to targeted killing? (February 2014, U.S. Global Engagement Program, transcript, audio, and video)

The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One
David Kilcullen, Crumpton Group
Have U.S. actions in the "war on terror" blurred the distinction between local and global struggles? How can the U.S. develop strategies that deal with global threats, avoid local conflicts where possible, and win them where necessary? (May 2009, Public Affairs, transcript, audio, and video)

The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World
Rupert Smith, British Army
The new paradigm is war amongst the people, where the strategic objective is to win hearts and minds, and the battle is for the people's will, rather than the destruction of an opponent's forces. (January 2007, Public Affairs, transcript, audio, and video)


One Nation Under Contract: The Outsourcing of American Power and the Future of Foreign Policy
Allison Stanger, Middlebury College
Allison Stanger shows how contractors became an integral part of U.S. foreign policy, often in scandalous ways, but maintains that the problem is not contractors, but the absence of good government. Outsourcing done right is, in fact, indispensable to U.S. interests today. (October 2010, Public Affairs, transcript, audio, and video)

Joel Rosenthal Interviews Thomas Griffith: When Is Military Outsourcing Appropriate?
Thomas E. Griffith Jr., The George Washington University
When is outsourcing appropriate? asks Griffith. We need to be thinking more deeply about what using military contractors means for the U.S. in terms of who we are and who we want representing us in the world. (April 2009, transcript and audio)

Jeffrey McCausland Interviews Eric "Rick" Olson: The Role of Military Contractors
Eric T. Olson, Independent Defense Contractor
"I just couldn't conceive of a battlefield now without contractors," says Olson, former Major General in the U.S. Army and now an independent defense contractor. He discusses the effect of contractors on the military profession, accountability issues, and the roles contractors play. (April 2009, transcript and audio)