In his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, President Obama cast war as a necessary evil.
Referring to just war theory, a classical underpinning of military ethics, Obama said, “War is justified only when certain conditions were met; if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.”
“For most of history, this concept of ‘just war’ was rarely observed,” he continued, citing the Third Reich and other examples. “Modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.”
Then came Obama’s caveat, and a shape of things to come: “There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”
Technology is the moral black box that lies between those “few small men” in remote geographies of militant Islam, and teams of American military personnel who target them in front of closed-circuit screens, peering into the places of their hunted lives, programming drone attacks like a surreal video game.