With today’s technical advances, the form and image of combat has entirely changed from what it was in the past. The planet has changed from a time where battles were fought with spears and swords to a time when wars are conducted with arms of mass destruction such as nuclear bombs. Drone warfare is another enhancement to contemporary warfare’s weapons, and has largely arisen from and is justified in light of the current era’s increase in terrorist attacks. Drone warfare utilizes drones that are not actually controlled by people, but rather by algorithms, and these aircraft are used to fire missiles. Drone warfare is primarily employed by the United States military and intelligence services in regions where militant attacks, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, are particularly vulnerable. Due to the cost of human life as well as the legitimacy of its effectiveness, this method of conflict has become a subject of controversy and discussion. Drone technology has caused much more interest since it has been built by forty nations across the world, with the United States’ armed forces alone having 7,000 drones (Billitteri 653). Drone warfare is an inefficient means of fighting that should be discontinued as it contributes to the death of harmless civilians and as it increases the amount of enemies for the government and thereby places the lives of the Americans at danger, it often helps to hamper the defense of the United States.
Drones, also known as “unmanned aerial vehicles,” gained notoriety after a series of active drone attacks, including the assassination of Sheikh Sa’id al-Masr. The CIA and supporters of drones justified the drone attacks by explaining that these attacks were very crucial to crackdown terrorists belonging to Al-Qaeda as they held the potential to carry out terrorist acts on the soil of the United States. Thus, proponents of drone attacks claimed that the integrity of the security of the United States was reliant upon these drone attacks (Billitteri 655). This led to a rise in the usage of drone planes and according to Billitteri, “In recent years the U.S. military has spent billions of dollars to expand its fleet of unmanned planes, which has gone from 167 aircraft in 2002 to more than 7,000 now. Last year, the Air Force trained more pilots to fly unmanned planes than traditional fighter pilots. (656)” This reflects the reality that contemporary strategy has evolved totally and that drone warfare has acquired enormous traction in the United States within the armed forces. Under international law, the CIA defended the use of drones by saying that it is an essential element of the US’s self-defense. Proponents frequently contend that the only steps that can be taken to curb and end extremist groups are drone strikes (Billitteri 656).
The reasons given for the use of drone warfare have been addressed and correct reasons have been given to justify the reality that little good is created by this type of warfare. In places like Pakistan, drone attacks have significantly expanded. Warlund describes the detrimental impact of these drone attacks by stating, “So far in 2010, at least 50 drone attacks have struck Pakistan, about the same number as in all of 2009.” Since 2004, the attacks have killed between 1,040 and 1,579 victims, with civilians responsible for around a third of the fatalities (656).” The writer tried to shed light on the troubling increase in the use of drone attacks and stressed that innocent and harmless civilians are one third of the people who die as a result of these attacks. In the name of self-defense, humanitarian law and other arguments may be used to excuse the shooting of innocent people (Billitteri 656).
Experts have provided other drawbacks in the drone technology as well. It is claimed that though drone attacks result in the killing of terrorists, it sparks a greater sentiment of extremism owing to the loss of innocent lives. Hence the main target of drone attacks is lost because more terrorists emerge and greater dislike is spread amongst the people of the attacked nation for the United States. Thus, it is highlighted that terrorism is not being eradicated by drone attacks but it is rather being strengthened (Billitteri 656). Drone warfare is also criticized because it puts the civilians in a greater susceptibility of being hurt and killed rather than the people who are operating these drones. Thus, critics argue that endangering innocent lives rather than the lives of the people involved in the war is unethical (Billitteri 656). The economic costs incurred by technical problems and wrong steps which lead to crashes of drone planes provide for another negativity of this form of warfare. It is explained “that the pilotless aircraft suffer from frequent system failures, computer glitches and human error.” (Billitteri 667) Thus the efficiency of these aircraft is much lower than the planes driven by pilots. Better usage of drone planes is to divert them for other functions which including patrolling over borders to prevent illegal activities taking place across the borders. Other uses can be for preventing fires in forests and be of assistance in natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes (Billitteri 660).
Drone attacks are an illegal and unjustified form of warfare that is not bringing out any good for the United States as well as for the countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan where these attacks are being carried out. A large number of civilians who are by no means engaged in war lose their lives because of drone attacks. International law cannot uphold such killings on any basis. It is an ineffective form of warfare that tends to further strengthen the roots of terrorism by spreading extremism and hence it tends to increase the risk of attacks on the United States by extremists. As a consequence, aerial warfare should be phased out, and drone aircraft should be reserved for other purposes.
- Billitteri, Thomas J. “Drone Warfare: Are Strikes by Unmanned Aircraft Ethical.” CQ Researcher. 20.28. (2010) :653-676. Print.
- The writer sheds light upon the different aspects of drone warfare. He writes about how the military and the intelligence agencies justify the drone attacks. The writer then explains how a large number of civilians lose their lives because of this form of warfare and he provides the opinions of experts regarding the negativities associated with drone warfare.