Should the United States continue to carry out drone strikes? Drones are unmanned aircraft capable of gathering intelligence; many drones are also armed. In recent years, the CIA has been involved...

Should the United States continue to carry out drone strikes?

Drones are unmanned aircraft capable of gathering intelligence; many drones are also armed. In recent years, the CIA has been involved in using drones to gather intelligence from enemies such as those in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Increasingly, armed drones are being deployed. While the military contends that drones only hit enemy targets, there is mounting evidence the innocent civilians are being killed in drone strikes. Drones are safer for our military to use as they do not put the lives of our own soldiers in danger. However, some argue that the deaths of civilians are causing more acts of terrorism than those strikes eliminate. Should the United States continue to carry out drone strikes? 

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One very important reason has been laid out to condemn the use of drones. Drone Wars UK points out that drones allow for the possibility to launch clandestine warfare without anyone claiming accountability. Proof of that is the UK Defense Minister Lord Astor's confession that without anyone's knowledge, the UK flew launched armed drones against Gaddafi's forces in Libya, 2011. Other proof is found in a letter the British Parliament published in The Times asserting that for the longest time "the United States refused to acknowledge the existence of such attacks." Twelve members of British Parliament published the letter in The Times with the intention of condemning drone attacks and petitioning Obama to put a stop to the strikes in Pakistan. The members of parliament also reported that the drone attacks have caused "more than 3,000 deaths" including hundreds of innocent children and civilians.

Reporter Nicholas Goldberg of the Los Angeles Times points out that leaders have gone to great efforts to try and prevent civilian deaths in the event of war. According to the Lieber Code of 1863, "The unarmed citizen is to be much as the exigencies of war will admit." We also tried to create laws protecting civilians in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, the Declaration of St. Petersburg of 1868, and finally the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

In my opinion the British Parliament is correct to condemn use of attack drones. We have gone to great lengths to create laws and moral codes of war to prevent the horrors of the world wars and Vietnam from occurring again. The US, as a leader of the free world, has a moral obligation to uphold the laws they helped to create and protect innocent civilians and children as much as the natural horrors of war permits.


Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am absolutely in favor of continued use of drones for surveillance and armed strikes.  If the U.S. military could take any of their potential pilots and air force personnel out of harms' way, then UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) should absolutely be used.  Any time fire power, whether it be missiles or bombs, is used in the context of a military strike, collateral damage is a possibility, whether caused by human error or drone inaccuracy.  In the end, the debate over usage of drones is a matter of priorities.  The U.S. military's chief concern should be to preserve the lives of its pilots, personnel, and troops; for this reason alone, drone usage in surveillance, and especially in combat, should be continued. 

The 'clandestine warfare' argument is a pretty flimsy one.  Any country, dictator, or terrorist cell with a missile silo and an unmarked missile or nuke could instigate 'clandestine warfare' at anytime.  If a country is going to be sneaky and launch an attack, they will, and the use or absence of drones will make little difference in the end result. 

From the perspective of focusing on the priority of saving human lives, the U.S. government should definitely continue to use UAVs in combat situations.  Is there a risk in regard to civilian casualties?  Absolutely--but that risk would remain in any combat situation depending upon missiles, technology, and accurate human response.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I tend to agree with the previous post.  I do not see that there is anything that is morally wrong with drone strikes in the war on terror as compared to strikes by manned aircraft.  We can say that drones give us the ability to attack without our people being endangered and that this makes us more likely to attack others.  But our airplanes are not likely to be shot down by the sorts of enemies we are attacking in places like Pakistan.  In reality, our drone program makes it more likely that we will avoid civilian casualties since the drones allow us to be much more careful about who we are firing at than supersonic fighters do.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If we are going to be engaged in warfare, then yes, we should use drones. Yes, there have been instances of civilian deaths, just like in every other conflict. But if we are at war and drones can get the job done and save American lives, then use them.

If we would prefer not to be at war at all, better yet. Then there is no need for drones or anything else to do the dirty work. Will we ever see such a world?

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I heard a news report the other day about the effects of drone strikes.  There seem to be way more misses and near-misses than we are led to believe.  People in these countries are terrified of this faceless, completely unpredictable killer.

najm1947 | Student

It appears that those who favour drone attacks attribute importance to their lives only and not the life of other innocent human beings. As such they do not appear to care for the values amd moral code.

najm1947 | Student

War on terror is in fact the most brutal terrorism of all times involving gross violation of human rights. The civilian casualties in drone attacks alone has out numbered the casualties of 911 not to talk of all the civilian casualties in Afghanistan. Why can US not secure it boundaries and prevent infiltrators entering its boundaries? Why go out of its geographic boundaries to get in to the so called war on terror?

It is sending a different message to the Muslim word - West in general and US in particular has some 'different agenda' masked with war on terror. It is a crusade against Muslims as mentioned in the first statement of  the then US president after 911 and only puppet Muslim states are supporting this war.

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