After killing two British IS jihadists, is the government right to say it won’t hesitate to use drone strikes again?
Robin Simcox, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, says Yes
There is, correctly, a high threshold for the government to meet before carrying out a targeted strike against a British citizen.
This is the first time such a strike has taken place, and it was done to prevent Reyaad Khan – an Islamic State terrorist – from causing bloodshed here in the UK. The government had no choice.
The UK has no troops on the ground in Syria, so capturing Khan was impossible. He had shown no intention of returning to the UK, so he could not be arrested by the police.
Yet Khan posed such a danger that action needed to be taken to protect UK citizens. When a British citizen joins a group bent on attacking the homeland, their citizenship is ultimately irrelevant.
If a dangerous terrorist were heavily armed and loose on the streets of London, for example, we would expect the police to do everything in their power to stop him. His nationality would not matter. The same principle applies here.
Alex Deane, head of public affairs at FTI Consulting and a former aide to David Cameron, says No
I am all for killing terrorists. The job of our Armed Forces is to close with and harm the Queen’s enemies.
Whether they do that up close and personally or remotely makes no difference in principle – indeed, it’s better done remotely as they’re safer.
But what does make a difference in principle is being accountable to Parliament. It is the democratic process that grants such killing legitimacy.
With it, the violence for which we grant a monopoly to the state is lawful and reasonable. Without it, extrajudicial killing veers concerningly close to murder.
The crazy part is that, if the government did the right thing and took this issue to the House, I am sure that in the present climate it would win the vote.
Understandably, defeat in the Syria vote in the last Parliament spooked some in Tory high command. But it’s time to put the shadow of coalition days behind us.