Use of Drones has potential catastrophic consequences

May 15, 2013 5:49 pm

The United States use of drones began under George W. Bush era, but their use has dramatically increased under Barack Obama’s, as the new way to fight al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Since 2004 there have been 283 drone strikes in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan alone.FAA-told-to-make-room-for-drones-in-US-skies-DSV211D-x-large

Drones have turned the war against terror to a killing rather than capture policy. The amount of suspected al-Qaeda people killed by these drone strikes doubles the numbers that were even imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. This is firstly a potential waste of valuable information that could be attained to help the fight against al-Qaeda, but it also sets in motion a policy defined by mass deaths of al-Qaeda members and civilians alike. General James cartwright said that “If you’re trying to kill, no matter how precise you are, you are going to upset people even if they are not targeted”. This policy is short-sighted and undermines long term efforts to battle extremism. This unconstrained killing breeds hatred of the United States and has potential blowback effects.

We have already seen the effects of this blowback. The failed Time Square bomber Faisal Shahzad named the use of drones in his homeland of Pakistan as the reason for his bombing attempt. Jeffrey Addicott, who was a legal advisor to Army Special Operations, believes drones “create more enemies than we’re killing or capturing”. The argument that drone strikes make United States army personnel safer is again short-sighted by how many have died by suicide bombings as repercussions for the using of drones. This policy does not try to stabilize a country, strengthen their economy, curb corruption or improve services. It only seeks to kill members of al-Qaeda and leave the local population to cope with the costs of rebuilding.

The drone technology is at the forefront of modern warfare and counterterrorism. This leads to a new and dangerous arm race. At the moment, at least 76 countries have acquired UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology, and there are 680 drone programs in the world now. The spread of lethal drones creates the possibility that the norms in war and conflict regarding the use of force and the legality of who is a target will be eroded. This means that potentially mass chaos is not far off, with anyone potentially being a target anywhere in the world, for governments or other groups. There is no red line stopping the spread and usage of this technology.
The current use of drones by the United States sets a poor legal precedent for the future, as it is basically assassinating members of foreign countries, largely without permission. This ignores states sovereign rights and basic human rights, as often those killed are potential terrorists. So, in other words, they have not committed any crime yet. This shows the United States is meting out justice without regard for international law.

This lack of legal precedence that the United States exploits at the moment will strip itself of their ability to defend their own citizens in the future. This will be the case for every country: in ten to twenty years, the use of drones will be global, and not just for the most powerful like now. At this moment in time, the use of drones and the spread of technology will only increase their use.

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