Friday, April 24, 2015

The Neutrality Act and Saving Civilians

Yesterday the world learned that in January the United States government killed an American and an Italian hostage in a drone strike in Pakistan.

“As president and as commander in chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations,” the grim-faced president told reporters as television cameras broadcast his words. “I profoundly regret what happened,” he added. “On behalf of the United States government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families.”
When it is suggested that the Neutrality Act ought to be repealed so that private persons can go about fighting terrorists and freeing hostages, supporters of the Neutrality Act counter that privateers would not behave with due care and that innocent parties would be hurt. But in fact, the commander-in-chief of the United States is immune from prosecution when a drone hits a civilian. The same would not be true for a private party. Privateers would be much more careful to hit only intended targets.


  1. Interesting take on this issue.

    1. Thanks, Julia. I don't think anyone else has suggested this is what we should learn from the tragedy, but it is not the first time the US govt has done this, and a privateer on the ground would be much more effective than a drone in the sky.