The debate over whether the United States should use drone strikes in foreign countries has become heated over the last decade. Under former President Obama, U.S. drone strikes significantly increased, and the number has continued to rise under President Trump. There are various questions regarding legality, morality, and effectiveness surrounding the issue.
Those who support the use of drone strikes view them as an important military technology. There is less of a need for the military to use human soldiers on the ground, resulting in fewer U.S. soldiers being killed. On top of this, they are considered to be extremely accurate by some experts, as they allow the military to pinpoint certain high-profile actors. The use of drone strikes has resulted in the killings of many high-profile terrorists. Drones are also less expensive than other means of war. This could mean that with the use of drone strikes, defense spending can be decreased. Lastly, proponents argue that there is broad oversight when it comes to the use of these weapons.
There are many arguments against the use of drone strikes by the U.S. military. First, they result in many civilian casualties. Several reports from organizations such as Amnesty International have shown that often times there is collateral damage. In October 2015, a classified document was leaked showing that in a five-month period of drone strikes in Afghanistan, about 90 percent of those killed were not the intended targets. This could also cause more terrorists to be created since individuals often see those close to them killed. Another argument is that the drone strikes are illegal, and any laws that do support them were passed behind closed doors. There are vague guidelines for who can be targeted, and the U.S. Congress does not need to be consulted first. International humanitarian law states that in order for an individual to be targeted, they must be participating in hostilities with the United States.
The topic of drone strikes in foreign countries will continue to be debated as it becomes more and more of a military tool. It is one of the most heated aspects of U.S. military policy, and many see it as a continuation of U.S. policy that disregards human rights. On the other hand, it does provide a way to have “fewer boots on the ground,” something that has been pursued for decades.