Protecting civilians during violent conflict : theoretical and practical issues for the 21st century
Farnham ; Burlington : Ashgate, 2012
Technology is also a very important part of the modern battlefield, particularly the increased reliance on surveillance technology and precision weapons. David Whetham argues that many of the advantages of precision stand-off weaponry are obvious : more precision means fewer weapons are required to achieve the same result ; fewer warheads means a reduction in "collateral damage" ; greater accuracy means smaller warheads to achieve the desired effect, resulting in fewer civilian deaths and less damage to infrastructure. Whetham, however, cautions that stand-off weapons systems (and the responses prompted by them) might well also have some worrying implications for civilians in contemporary conflict. The lower political cost associated with using such weapons suggests that force can be easier to justify, leading to the phenomenon of "drive-by wars" where there is no real moral commitment to the struggle. Whetham's view is that the sophisticated development of weaponry creates a greater potential for relaxing moral standards and might have the paradoxical effect of more civilian casualties.