Drone attacks drain our legitimacy
Drones, or “unmanned aerial vehicles,” are military technologies that allow our government to conduct surveillance, launch missile strikes and even assassinate individuals all over the world, all without having to declare war and embroil our ground forces. The use of drone technology has enraged foreign governments such as Pakistan, which constantly suffers these attacks on their sovereignty.
Since coming to office, President Barack Obama has authorized more drone attacks than sanctioned in George W. Bush’s entire first term.
One such drone attack targeted the wrong house in Pakistan, killing 20 civilians with victims as young as 5 years old. The estimated death toll, according to the New America Foundation, has now risen to 2,300.
Meanwhile, as our country uses these drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Libya, their legality is being debated in the International Court of Justice. The Court has not come to a decision yet, but it is unlikely that they will rule in favor of such warfare.
To launch drone attacks on countries we are not at war with and to assassinate foreign citizens without the proper legal process (including a trial) is an unmistakable breach of every conventional law of war.
Not only is the legality of drone warfare dubious at best, but such tactics are also counterproductive.
The use of drone attacks in Pakistan, for example, has strained our relationship with their intelligence service. This creates a barrier to more effective intelligence gathering and greatly impedes our joint counterterrorism efforts.
Even more alarming is the reaction of the citizens of these countries. Drone attacks have understandably inflamed anti-American sentiment as innocent civilians die; people have come to realize that the United States has no authority to take such action.
These people are oppressed by their governments and live in impoverished communities — the perfect breeding ground for extremism and violence.
Drone attacks only serve to exacerbate their hopelessness and escalate aggression. Using this technology may achieve short-term security, but such measures will certainly lead to a more violent outcome in the future.
These drone attacks are indefensible from an ethical standpoint. It reeks of audacity and privilege for a country to impede on the sovereignty of other nations and terrorize their civilians, especially if they are free from facing the physical risks of such aggression.