“But I AM bothered by it because it violates the notion of a fair fight, which is one element of a just war.”
That is not part of Just War. There is no requirement for a fair fight. Just War requires it be fought by a legitimate authority, mitigates the suffering of innocents and is fought for a just cause.
Throwing rocks to avoid physically closing with the enemy, using rifles to shoot those that throw rocks, using jets to bomb the enemy when he has no AAA or SAMs, it is all about a longer reach. A longer reach increases your safety and survival and the use of UAVs provide that.
“The whole drone attack business has always bothered me, as frankly has the whole use of high technology against primitive foes.”
Question: So, are you saying we must only fight using the same weapons or our enemy?
“There is something immoral about smiting an enemy who cant hit back. “
So, our warriors are immoral because they use the weapons we give them, weapons that allow them to strike the enemy and remain relatively safe while doing so? That is immoral?
“It also provides some element, though not much, of moral justification to those who respond by hitting back the only way they can against soft civilian targets. IOW, to terrorists.”
Not really. Attacking the innocent as the aim of your attack is a violation of Just War. Remember, one of the principle aims of Just War it to mitigate the suffering of the innocent.
Will innocents suffer in war? Yes, but they should NOT be the target of the war.
Proportionality is necessary: is the military gain worth the cost to the innocent. Bombing a powerplant that powers a key military base also powers a hospital. . .what is the proportional military gain when compared to the civilian cost. See double-effect.
Double-effect is also considered: Is the target serving a dual use purpose, and if so, will attacking the target be necessary and be proportional to the military gain?
Strategic Effect: Attacking the munitions (IED) factory may cause “civilians” working there to be killed/injured. That is acceptable as they are contributing directly to the war effort. Attacking the farmer in the field because he grows food that the enemy will eat is not—no immediate impact on the war effort.
Just War is on our side, whereas it is not on the side of the terrorists or insurgents.
By the way, Just War theory is a Western concept and is not even close to the middle-east “thoughts” on war. They are truly the evil ones and the ones that fight “unfairly.”
Bam-Bam may be AFU regarding the targets he selects, or the manner in which he selects them ... but the use of XXI Century First World technology against a bunch of primitives is virtually a moral requirement in that it minimizes danger to good guys and innocents.
However, by permitting drones to assassinate and by permitting drones to operate in our country, we have opened the door to totalitarianism to the utmost with no safeguards.
This is a can of worms that wont fix ever.
Our children and children's children will reap slavery and pain for the decisions today.