April 18, 2014
Word Count: 1594
Drones: Peace Keeper or Terrorist Teacher
Controversy has plagued America’s presence in the Middle East and America’s usage of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) contributes vastly to this controversy. Their usefulness and ability to keep allied troops out of harm’s reach is hardly disputed. However, their presence in countries that are not at war with America, such as Pakistan and Yemen, is something contested. People that see the implications of drone use are paying special attention to the civilian casualty count, world perspective, and the legality of drone operations in non-combative states. The use of drone technology in the countries of Yemen and Pakistan are having negative consequences. In a broad spectrum, unconsented drone strikes are illegal according to the laws of armed conflict, unethical, and are imposing a moral obligation upon those who use them. These issues are all of great importance and need to be addressed. Their legality is also something of great importance and begins with abiding to the Laws of Armed Conflict.
Following the Laws of Armed Conflict is something the United States has been circumventing, bending, and breaking with the increase of drone use (Killmister). Drones are currently operating at a rate never seen before and are revolutionizing the way the military operates. With changes in military tactics there are also expectations in terms of the way these new tactics are used. Loosely defined, the Laws of Armed conflict consist of the way nations at war shall conduct themselves, how neutral powers are to act, and how neutral and combative states are supposed to interact with one another (Lucas). This being said, it is debated whether or not the United States is interacting with neutral states in an acceptable fashion. In 2009, a United Nations assembly report regarding extrajudicial killings was critical of the way the United States has been using its drones in places outside of combat zones. The report stated that “killing outside an armed conflict ‘is almost never likely to be legal.” The U.N. was also critical of the way that America has been interpreting the laws of war for personal benefit. For instance, America targeted drug lords in Afghanistan “suspected of giving money to the Taliban” using lethal forces to disband them, which is “a policy it (the U.N.) said was contrary to the traditional understanding of the laws of war” (Savage). The report went on to say that non-combative war criminals, such as drug lords, financiers of terrorism, and propagandists should be prosecuted in court, not placed on kill lists to inevitably become another kill accounted to a drone (Savage).
UAV’s have their place on the battlefield and in the future. However, being utilized for destructive purposes, outside the context of war, is inhumane and an unjustified action by the United States under false pretenses of self-defense and terror...