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The Moral Case for High-Tech Weapons 

Merav Ceren

Spurred by the digital revolution and pressured by Western moral standards about protecting innocent life, advances in battlefield technology have fundamentally changed the way we fight wars. Armies can now use pinpointed weapons to minimize civilian casualties. They can fire missiles at a single apartment in a crowded building, can identify the car of a terror cell leader and monitor it until it passes into an isolated area and be destroyed with a drone, and can use cyber tools to remotely disable weapons systems without ever dropping a bomb.

In short, precision weapons offer a more moral way to target enemies and their military assets, especially when non-state fighters use urban settings and civilians to shield themselves. These weapons, and their wise employment on the battlefield, are developments we should largely praise and sustain, even as important questions remain about how to employ them lawfully and about the true extent of their reduction of civilian casualties.

Many of the weapons that make precise combat possible have their origins in Israel. The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower, penned by Israeli journalists Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot, recounts how and why the small state has developed such advanced weaponry. The book largely takes the form of narrative ­­nonfiction rather than an essay or a policy report, telling a series of stories about how “Israeli chutzpah” grew the country into a military technology hub.

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Merav Ceren is a foreign policy analyst and writer living in Washington, D.C.

Merav Ceren, "The Moral Case for High-Tech Weapons," The New Atlantis, Number 53, Summer/Fall 2017, pp. 136-143.