Targeted Killings: Benefits and Drawbacks of Drones


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Should Drones Be Used for Targeted Killings?

When it comes to overseas military weaponry, there is a big controversy over using drones for the United States war effort. “Drone” is the term used to describe a particular aircraft that is not physically piloted, but instead remote-controlled with computers, like an electronic helicopter toy. The issue of the usage of drones has to do with whether or not they should be used for targeted killings. Supporters of drones believe that they cause fewer casualties, both for our armies and the enemies’, and that drones also seem to be very popular among the majority of Americans. People against the usage of drones believe that they unnecessarily kill large amounts of innocent people in enemy countries, and drone killings motivate more enemies to fight us. Finding out if drones cause more problems that they solve, because it is a new technology, is what makes this a controversial debate that I will elaborate on more.

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Some people believe drones are a great idea for military weapons because they are safe for soldiers who do not have to physically be in the battlefield to fight. There is “…no pilot at risk of being killed or maimed in a crash…(or)…to be taken captive by enemy forces…” (Ruder, 2013) This is a valid argument, seeing how drones can just be replaced if shot down. Soldiers are allowed to go home after engaging in combat. There is also the support for drones because of the low amount of casualties in enemy countries they carry out. In past wars, civilian deaths in enemy territory made up around half or more of war casualties. With drones, “…the rate of civilian deaths…ranges between eight and fifteen percent.”(Singh, 2013) This seems to be a strong, inductive argument because of its statistical research. People are turning their heads toward drone usage also because of its popularity. According to Alyssa Brown and Frank Newport, “…nearly two thirds of Americans (65%) think the U.S. government should use drones to launch airstrikes in other countries against suspected terrorists.” This is a poor, fallacious argument for drone usage because it is a bandwagon argument. It lacks any logical reasoning to support the weaponry, and instead supports the majority of the people without knowing the motive behind it.

There are also reasons to reject drones as a war tool. People against drones say that while drones are used as weapons in battle, they are also used to carry out “signature strikes,” in which a drone targets a person that seems to engage in terrorist/militant activity, even if the identity of the target is unknown. According to Cora Currier’s Drone War Doctrine, one signature strike took out “a meeting of tribesmen, and villagers provided evidence to the (Associated Press) that 38 civilians were killed.” Drones are also rejected because they are believed to create more terrorists than they end up killing. Jeremy Scahill’s Washington’s War in Yemen Backfires article says, “the strikes ‘have recruited thousands…’ who want ‘revenge against the Americans, because those who are killed are the sons of the tribesmen, and the tribesmen never give up on revenge.” Whatever the motivation, the number of enemy combatants has grown. “In 2009…there were no more than 300…AQAP members. That number has grown in recent years to 700 or more…” (Raghavan, 2012) These seem like strong, inductive arguments because drone strikes motivate civilians to join the opposing armies because they probably believe we are not sacrificing any people in this war; thereby , we have nothing to lose, and our motivations for war seem to look more like a fight for control rather than a fight for freedom.

Drones still continue to be an interesting, controversial topic today because of how they cause an imbalance between freedom and security. Freedom and security are two opposite things, yet they are equally desirable. Americans may be secure and comfortable when using drones, but at the cost of civilian freedom in other countries, even if they are enemy countries. If we do not use drones, we lose our security and guarantee American deaths in the war. It is a tough concept to look at: whether we are being smart by using drones, or cruel. War almost always brings out the monsters on both sides.

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