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Can Drones Be Just? Essay

1595 words - 7 pages

War can be defined as “an organized and deliberate political act by an established political authority, which must cause 1,000 or more deaths in a twelve-month period, and which requires at least two actors capable of harming each other” (253, Mingst.) This is a broad definition as war can take several different forms, categorized in various ways. Today, the United States is engaged in the War on Terror. In a post-9/11 world, terrorist attacks are even greater sources of fear to citizens, as well as massive threats to national and international security. Over the past few decades, terrorists have been successful in increasing support and achieving political aims. This poses a major security dilemma to victims, such as the United States. It is this sense of insecurity that leads to military action. Any sense of threat is likely to send a nation to arms (251-252, Mingst.) The U.S. government thus must decide as to what the best course of action would be, in protecting the nation. Over the past decade, drone use has increased exponentially for this purpose. These unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, are often used in attempts to eliminate terrorism. While it is evident that terrorism poses massive threats to the nation, drone strikes are not conducive to a just war.
Terrorism can be specifically classified as asymmetric conflict, or a ”war between political actors of equal strength, in which the weaker party tries to neutralize its opponent’s strength by exploiting the opponent’s weaknesses” (A16, Glossary, Mingst.) Terrorist groups pose a great security threat, on an international scale (278, Mingst.) As terrorist groups increase in size and influence, the threat on security grows as well. The question then arises as to how to eliminate terrorists. In attempting to determine the right course of action, the United States has found a way to attempt to target specific terrorists: the use unmanned aerial vehicles. Drone utilization has increased greatly over the past ten years. In 2003, the United States was in possession of 50 drones, while in 2012 it had more than 7,000 (286, Mingst.) Today, drones are used for surveillance, but have become commonly employed as vehicles which U.S. operators can control to attack a target, even one across the world (286, Mingst.) This is a method through which the United States government can eliminate specific terrorists.
There is much debate as to whether or not drone use is jus in bello, or “just in war”. In order to determine this, one must first look at the criteria that a war must meet in order to be considered a just one. The first requirement, as stated in Essentials of International Relations by Karen A. Mingst, is that “there must be a just cause (self-defense or the defense of others, or a massive violation of human rights) and a declaration of intent by a competent authority (which, since the formation of the United Nations, has been interpreted to mean the UN Security Council)” (283-284, Mingst.)...

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