It has been common practice for a number of years for some countries to use unmanned aerial vehicles – better known as drones, in order to attack enemy combatants. Drones are remotely-controlled aircraft’s, normally armed with missiles or bombs. The United States are known for prominently using drone strikes, and have struck hundreds of targets in the likes of Pakistan and Yemen. While many have heralded the effectiveness of drones, others criticise their destructive impact. The topic has caused heated debate for many years, and will surely continue to do so. In this article, we provide arguments for both sides.
Drone strikes have been used on a consistent basis by the United States since the tragic 9/11 attacks. They have been used heavily in both Iraq and Syria in recent years, with the United States leading an international coalition of nations supporting the strikes. Many have praised drone strikes as a method for killing enemies, while others point to civilian casualties and the strikes’ propensity for causing more terrorists than they eliminate as reasons for why they should be stopped. Both sides of the argument have many intriguing points.
Arguments FOR Overseas Drone Strikes
- Drone strikes have the intention of killing targets that could pose a security threat to a nation. This security threat could kill hundreds of people. Therefore, drone strikes, when they work as intended – can save hundreds of lives. There is no telling how many lives they have saved in the last few years.
- Drone strikes have decimated terrorist networks – killing many high-ranking commanders and thousands of militant followers.
- Many criticise drone strikes due to their ability to inadvertently kill civilians. However, statistics suggest drones are more effective than bombs or mines in terms of lowering civilian casualties.
- It is far from a perfect method, but is there really an alternative? It does save nations from having to ‘put boots on the ground’.
- In nations which have been torn apart by militants, drone strikes can help government forces take back control of the country – meaning in some cases it can make countries safer for civilians.
- Many countries supported the USA during the recent Iraq/Syria conflict – with the US receiving considerable support to proceed with drone strikes.
- There are stringent processes around drone strikes. Several criterion must be satisfied prior to a drone strike being permitted.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has proven to be a profound problem with battlefield conflict. There is a much lower chance of PTSD developing with drone strikes.
- Polls have shown that the majority of citizens of nations support drone strikes.
Arguments AGAINST Overseas Drone Strikes
- Drone strikes are never going to eradicate the problem of terrorism. It is thus a short-term fix as opposed to a long-term solution. Targets will always be replaced by other militants.
- Drone strikes have killed dozens of innocent civilians. While some point to this being for the greater good, it is inexcusable for civilians to be caught up in a war they are not a part of. This is completely unfair.
- While citizens of some countries have been shown to support drone strikes, others reject it, and a majority is rarely found.
- While drones have occasionally been responsible for killing high-value targets, it is normally militants with less power that are killed.
- Drone strikes often actually turn people against the nation that delivered the drone. This creates a situation where with every drone strike, more terrorists are created than eliminated. Drone strikes have been cited by many terrorists as the motivation behind their attacks. Overall, nations may be making more enemies by operating drones.
- Some communities can be left traumatised by drones. If they hear drones hovering, they may fear they are in imminent danger. Moreover, they live with the knowledge their community could be attacked at any point.
- Little information regarding drone strikes are released, and therefore there is a limited chance for those in the decision-making positions to be held accountable. It could be suggested they have a free-reign to attack whoever they want.
- While drones may be cheaper than other forms of combat, it is still an expensive method to use. Each drone used costs around $4million!
- Drone strikes also risk inflaming relations between nations. This is because overseas drone strikes are usually carried out without the permission of the nation being attacked.
- Finally, who is really to say who is ‘good’, and who is ‘bad’. After all, one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. How long before other states start using drones against ‘rebels’ or ‘militants’? Who is to say that the government is always the good force? It arguably sets a dangerous precedent for the future.
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As you see from the arguments above, there are several compelling ideas for both sides of this debate. Both arguments have several riveting points, making this debate a difficult one to decide upon. It is unlikely that drone strikes will ever result in a unanimous verdict. Instead, they will surely continue to divide opinion.