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I think that it is intuitively quite clear, that it is possible for 'cyber operations' to be part of acts of war. [1] And the perpetrators are therefore combatants and legitimate targets. But since I read P.W. Singer's Wired for war I have the strong feeling that the second order effects of 'cyber' and drone operations are quite poorly thought out. So for example a drone pilot is by this standard a combatant. And this reduces the protections international law has for his house and the civilians within ( his family).

So I think, that the dominant military power ( or in case of the NATO, military alliance) should try to limit the use of potentially disruptive developments, already out of self interest.

[1] I will not argue in this about the morality of war or the logic of warfare. Here I will simply argue within this framework.

Is a man sitting in a bomber a combatant? If so, then how is a drone pilot not a combatant?

How does international law protect civilians in a war, except by the actions of a party interested in protecting those civilians?

"And this reduces the protections international law has for his house and the civilians within ( his family)."

I don't know what protections you are talking about, but I doubt the pilots would be piloting anything from their homes. They only go there on leave, just like all other soldiers. As for hackers, if a state sponsored attack is launched from a civilian home, it is a violation of the rules of war. The hackers should be in a military installation when doing anything (they probably would anyway, just for security, easier cooperation etc.). There has always been soldiers who fight wars without going to the battlefield.

The scenario I am thinking about is, that bombing an apartment block full of civilians is quite clearly a war crime. On the other hand, bombing barracks is not. And since a drone pilot on leave is as far as I understand still a combatant, he can be attacked given that the harm to civilians is 'proportional.' [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_necessity

Also, it should be possible to give drones even more selective weapons:


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