Top Pro & Con Arguments
Drone strikes make the United States safer.
Drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia killed between 7,665 and 14,247 militants and alleged militants, including high-level commanders implicated in organizing plots against the United States between 2013 and 2020.
According to President Obama, “[d]ozens of highly skilled al Qaeda commanders, trainers, bomb makers and operatives have been taken off the battlefield. Plots have been disrupted that would have targeted international aviation, U.S. transit systems, European cities and our troops in Afghanistan. Simply put, these strikes have saved lives.”
Beyond killing terrorists, that drones are remotely piloted saves American military lives. Drones are launched from bases in allied countries and are operated remotely by pilots in the United States, minimizing the risk of injury and death that would occur if ground soldiers and airplane pilots were used instead. The United States has the right under international law to “anticipatory self-defense,” which gives the right to use force against a real and imminent threat when the necessity of that self-defense is “instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation.”
Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their affiliates often operate in distant and environmentally unforgiving locations where it would be extremely dangerous for the United States to deploy teams of special forces to track and capture terrorists. Such pursuits may pose serious risks to U.S. and allied troops including firefights with surrounding tribal communities, anti-aircraft shelling, land mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide bombers, snipers, dangerous weather conditions, harsh environments, etc. Drone strikes eliminate all of those risks common to “boots on the ground” missions.
“[O]btaining armed drones leads to about six fewer terrorist attacks and 31 fewer deaths from terrorism annually. This translates to a 35 percent reduction in attacks and a 75 percent decrease in fatalities per year…. [T]here is indeed a compelling counterterrorism rationale for utilizing armed drones to enhance national security. Although armed drone operations can be costly — for example, by causing civilian casualties — our findings strengthen the case that the benefits exceed the costs,” say Joshua A. Schwartz, postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Kennedy School, Matthew Fuhrmann, professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University, and Michael C. Horowitz, Richard Perry Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.Read More