Top Pro & Con Arguments


Drone strikes create more terrorists while terrorizing civilians.

“Growing evidence, including by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), suggests a troubling trend: RPA strikes seem to be encouraging terrorism and increasing support for local violent extremist organizations. This seems to especially be the case in the absence of supporting narratives and perceived legitimacy, wherein terrorist and extremist groups can exploit civilian deaths to further their propaganda and recruitment efforts. For example, research from Pakistan published in 2019 shows that drone strikes ‘are suggested to encourage terrorism’ and ‘to increase anti-US sentiment and radicalization,’ Similarly, one 2020 study found that terrorists were more likely to increase their attacks in the months after a deadly drone strike. Put more bluntly, RPA strikes ‘radicalize civilians faster than they kill terrorists,’” say Erol Yaybokeand Christopher Reid, both of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. [167]

Of the 500 “militants” the CIA believed it had killed with drones between 2008 and 2010, only 14 were “top-tier militant targets,” and 25 were “mid-to-high-level organizers” of al Qaeda, the Taliban, or other hostile groups, according to Reuters. According to the New America Foundation, from 2004 to 2012 an estimated 49 “militant leaders” were killed in drone strikes, constituting “2% of all drone-related fatalities.” [59] [60]

Killing low-level terrorists and civilians, creates more terrorists. Abdulghani Al-Iryani, senior researcher at the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, noted many militants operating in Yemen are “people who are aggrieved by attacks on their homes that forced them to go out and fight.” While Abdulrasheed Al-Faqih, Executive Director of Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, explained, “Incidents of civilian harm in Yemen continue to negatively affect the reputation of the United States in the country and push local communities to consider violence and revenge as the only solution to the harm they suffer.” [49] [146]

General Stanley McChrystal, former leader of the U.S. military in Afghanistan, says that the “resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes… is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects of one.” [79]

Further, innocent civilians are terrorized by the drones. Yemeni tribal sheik Mullah Zabara says, “we consider the drones terrorism. The drones are flying day and night, frightening women and children, disturbing sleeping people. This is terrorism.” Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve, a human rights organization, elaborates, “an entire region is being terrorized by the constant threat of death from the skies. Their way of life is collapsing: kids are too terrified to go to school, adults are afraid to attend weddings, funerals, business meetings, or anything that involves gathering in groups.” [49] [58]

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