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Ethics of Warfare – Eye in the Sky Movie Review Example

The following Movie Review On Stranger Things and Its Visual Effects is an important topic for everyone to think about. If you need an essay writer to craft a similar one, don’t hesitate to address us.

The ethics on warfare demands warriors and planners to wage war as a last resort. If a slight option exists to prevent a war, the authorities need to exhaust that option. In other words, if avoiding a war may result in greater atrocities, then war could be considered an option. The principle of proportionality forbids targeting non-military objectives; the idea is to save civilian population from any harm and causalities (The ETHICS CENTRE, 2016). Undoubtedly, a full-scale war leads to devastation; however, the ethical consideration ensures there is no massacre or enslavement. Also, the decision to initiate a war must be fully justified. In several wars, people lose their lives in collateral damage; such damage must be avoided. In any country, political leaders are the representatives of people; therefore, they need to present their public with proper justification of waging a war. In that context, the movie Eye in the Sky represents the theme of military ethics as the warriors seek the justification of imminent casualties and understand that ethical rules do not allow collateral damage.

            In the movie, Eye in the Sky, released in 2015, directed by Gavin Hood, the US and British surveillance operation target terrorists in Kenya. At the time of operation, forces realize that they would come under attack; for this reason, they altered their goals from surveillance to hunt down and destroy. Drone pilots look to destroy a hideout of terrorists, but they spot a young girl preparing a bread close to the target. The question arises: can the forces kill her considering that the collateral damage would save the lives of many people? In military ethics, the topic of collateral damage holds major significance. According to the theory of non-combatant immunity, the forces must not deliberately target any civilian. Nevertheless, this rule does not imply that every civilian casualty will be unethical. A character in the movie Col Katherine Powell states that even likely casualty may be acceptable under specific circumstances. For example, if the attack is inevitable, the military gains overshadow the negative implications and all appropriate steps have been taken to prevent civilian casualties.

The military advantages of drone strikes are apparent; these attacks are also ethical in a sense that they only aim at the target, which reduces the chances of civilian casualties. Importantly, the risk to the lives of military personnel carrying out drone strike is minimal. On the other hand, the damage caused by a missile attack is much more; this indicates that drone pilots or operators operate in safer environment as compared to the foot soldiers with arms and weapons. Yet, the drone attacks need to present moral justifications. If a drone kills more civilians than a terrorist, then it may not be considered ethical. Saving civilian population is a major ethical consideration in warfare. The question also arises: what essentially is reasonable measure?

The military strategists first take into account the safety of their own soldiers. Reducing the risk may cause problems for drone operators as well; they often get puzzled that to what extent they could go to attack the target and what is the threat level for civilians or innocent people. They need to focus not only on target rather the safety of other people. In fact, terrorists tend to hide in populated areas to remain unidentified and when feel threatened, they can use innocent civilians as their shield. In that regard, attacking a target poses an ethical dilemma for military personnel. A drone operator or foot soldiers are required to focus on military objectives, but if they end up killing civilians in a military operation, they may be labelled as ruthless killers despite their efforts of avoiding collateral damage.

In the movie, the commanders Benson and Powell present the arguments about killing the terrorist even through the operation would end up killing an innocent girl. If suicide bombers are not targeted and they manage to escape, they will spread terror and kill several innocent civilians. It is in the interest of common people to kill the terrorist; death of one innocent girl would protect the lives of many other citizens. In this situation, pilot needs to take the decision as he is the one who will launch the strike. Opening the fire means, he would kill the girl with the terrorist. The pilot is an ethical dilemma; also, he is under immense pressure psychologically even if he considers the killing of a girl morally justified. Taking the life of an innocent individual is not a straightforward decision. The pilots may suffer from stress or undergo trauma if they have not killed any innocent civilian before.

Moreover, the drone pilots do not bluntly kill their targets; instead, they observe them closely before making the final strike. They gather information about targets’ activities, family members and community around him. Therefore, their job is different in comparison with manned pilots and other soldiers. Pilots’ job is tough as they have to deal with psychological effects and ethical considerations. At times, their mind is in the state of conflict with their heart. The contemporary military ethics suggest that all soldiers and warriors are under moral obligation to decline any unlawful or unethical instructions. In the movie, senior decision-makers argue whether to launch a strike or not. It had become the issue of taking the responsibility. The chain of command allows the attack, the pilot makes risk assessment. Initially, they wait some time so that girl could leave the place, but it also poses a danger that the terrorist may also escape.  The risk assessment indicates that the chances of girl’s casualty is less than fifty percent. The pilot launches the strike; as a result, girl gets injured. She is taken to hospital where she succumbed to injuries and pronounced dead by the doctors. The senior authorities alongside the pilot try their best to avoid the casualty of the innocent girl, but she became the victim of a collateral damage. This indicates that in many situations, collateral damage may not be avoided hundred percent. In the movie, they launched the airstrike with thorough professionalism and with minimum possible risk of collateral damage, but the strike claimed the life of an innocent girl. For girl’s family and several other people, all the military personnel and authorities involved in this operation are the killers of this girl. They may not understand any justification or logic behind the attack. In large perspective, a successful operation can be tragic as it may take the lives of innocent civilians, but it may not be called unethical because the fundamental objective of the military operation in the movie was to kill a bomber who was a potential threat to the public.


The ETHICS CENTRE, (2016). ‘Eye in the Sky’ and drone warfare – THE ETHICS CENTRE. Retrieved 20 December 2021, from


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