Guide Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies

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DAWN reports. The Associated Press and Agence France Presse carried earlier reports of the story, before the identifications were made. Al Jazeera reports:. All three people travelling in the car were killed and the vehicle completely destroyed, the security official said on condition of anonymity. The Associated Press reports.

How Drones Are Changing Warfare | Cato Unbound

He says men angry over perceived foreign intervention fired in the air and authorities closed the airport. Militias, known as brigades, fought regime forces during Libya's eight-month civil war that led to Moammar Gadhafi's fall last year. Since then, many have roles in keeping security, though they have not been integrated into government forces.

In addition, countries of proliferation concern developed and fielded increasingly more sophisticated systems. Recent trends in new UAV capabilities, including armed and miniature UAVs, increased the number of military applications for this technology. A number of new civilian and commercial applications, such as law enforcement and environmental monitoring, are available for UAVs, but these applications are limited by regulatory restrictions on civilian airspace.

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For instance, some foreign countries likely have already used UAVs to gather information on U. Alternatively, the U. The Muscatine Journal reported :.

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And although Obama deserves credit for long resisting substantial pressure to intervene in the Syrian Civil War, he was unable to resist the temptation to orchestrate regime change in Libya. As detailed in the previous section, Obama has distinguished himself from his predecessor primarily in the manner in which he has employed military force—not whether or not to do so.


For instance, in announcing the beginning of the U. Since indigenous ground forces have proved incapable of destroying the Islamic State even with the support of U. A thorough strategic reassessment is consequently in order. It is imperative to evaluate how employing the light footprint or military force more generally is likely to advance various U. During the seven-month allied campaign in Libya, the United States did not suffer a single fatality. As of May 4, , only 16 U. From the perspective of the Obama administration, the avoidance of U. Neither the U. Although there is some debate whether U.

The campaign to degrade and destroy the Islamic State has already dragged on much longer than the Libya operation, and it has certainly engendered much more criticism. Yet even though the Islamic State has been able to consolidate its control in a number of Sunni areas within Iraq and Syria, U. In fact, coalition forces have even succeeded in driving the Islamic State from most of the Kurdish-majority regions in northern Iraq and Syria. The strikes have decimated the hierarchy of al Qaeda and its affiliates. According to data compiled by New America, drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen have killed somewhere in the range of 2, to 4, militants, including more than senior leaders.

Employing standoff strike capabilities, often in support of indigenous ground forces, may be a viable means of preempting and containing terrorist threats, and even overthrowing repugnant dictators. In Syria, for instance, Obama explained quite clearly that U. In such circumstances, accomplishing U.

Obama defends drones strikes

That is evident from the U. In , the Iraqi security forces collapsed in the face of the Islamic State onslaught through Anbar and Nineveh provinces. Although government forces were able to recapture Ramadi at the close of , they had been unable, as of May , to dislodge Islamic State fighters from strongholds in Mosul and Fallujah.

Likewise, the Afghan security forces have struggled to combat the resurgence of the Taliban. Since many states in the Middle East and North Africa will likely continue to experience substantial difficulty exercising sovereignty and projecting security throughout the territory under their nominal control, it is certainly tempting for the United States to launch airstrikes especially using drones to deny terrorists safe haven in those territories.

If other states are either unwilling or unable to do the job, we will. Unfortunately, terrorist leaders are replaceable. Attempts to decapitate terrorist organizations can disrupt operations, but they are unlikely to cripple such groups. In some cases, eliminating one terrorist leader might perversely empower a new leader who is more radical, influential, or competent. Although airstrikes may be useful for disrupting the operation of terrorist organizations, they cannot mitigate the root causes of terrorism.

As numerous critics have suggested, the U. But there is no denying that the United States has a serious image problem in many of the countries that spawn anti-American terrorists. According to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey, only small minorities in countries throughout the greater Middle East view the United States favorably: 10 percent in Egypt, 12 percent in Jordan, 41 percent in Lebanon, 14 percent in Pakistan, and 19 percent in Turkey.

Moreover, large majorities of respondents in those countries disapprove of the ongoing U. Moreover, as troubling as simmering anti-Americanism throughout the greater Middle East may be, the impact of the drone campaign on Muslims living in the West should not be overlooked. Within Muslim communities that already suffer socioeconomic marginalization particularly within Europe , U. In so doing, the drone campaign has probably contributed to the radicalization of disaffected Muslims living throughout the West.

So although drone strikes can successfully disrupt the operations of terrorist organizations abroad, they may perversely stimulate the growth of home-grown terrorists. The limitations of the light footprint suggest that the United States needs to do more than simply alter tactics in pursuit of the same objectives. After 15 years of warfare, it is abundantly clear that military force can do little to defeat terrorism or catalyze democratization. The United States should therefore adopt a gradualist nonmilitary strategy, which conceives of the eradication of terrorism and the spread of liberal democracy as very long-term goals.

Under such a strategy, military force should be used much more sparingly to achieve limited objectives in extraordinary circumstances—such as the operation to kill Osama bin Laden. Many policymakers do seem to recognize that defeating terrorism is a long-term challenge. To the extent that U. Since the ideology of Islamic extremism cannot be defeated militarily, it is tempting to focus instead on eradicating the root causes of terrorism.

Unfortunately, we still do not possess a strong understanding of what those root causes are. Politicians and pundits have pointed to factors such as poverty, poor education, social marginalization, and political repression. But a growing body of research has failed to generate any consensus that any of those factors do, in fact, drive terrorism. But we should temper our expectations that their gradual accomplishment will do much to diminish the threat of terrorism in the near term.

Rather than trying to eradicate terrorism, the United States should focus on mitigating the threat of terrorist attacks through intelligence and law enforcement. Those are domains in which the United States has had a fair amount of success. Since September 11, , law enforcement is known to have foiled 53 potential attacks against U.

Unfortunately, those dramatic attacks have obscured the fact that U. Because people instinctively pay more attention to the few sensational attacks that do occur than those that are thwarted or never materialize, most Americans overestimate the threat posed by Islamic terrorists. Despite their successes, law enforcement and intelligence agencies certainly have room for improvement.

Better cooperation amongst security services is clearly necessary.

Drones Are a Challenge — and an Opportunity

The result was that Tzarnaev avoided greater scrutiny. Because of poor intelligence sharing amongst European agencies, however, Abaaoud was able to stay a step ahead of law enforcement in traveling back and forth between Europe and Syria. Improving domestic and international counterterrorism coordination can, however, further reduce the threat of terrorism at little cost.

Rather than throwing more money and resources at the problem, improved cooperation will enable the United States and its allies to get more bang for the buck from their existing programs. There is nothing inherently wrong with highlighting the spread of democracy as a major foreign policy objective.

Should we be scared of Trump's drone reforms?

That goal is consistent with the norms and values on which the American political system is founded. Democratization would almost surely improve the lives of millions of people living under authoritarianism around the world by endowing them with civil liberties and political rights that we in the West often take for granted. In the long run, the spread of democracy could also potentially produce a more peaceful world. If democratic peace theory holds, an increase in the number of democratic states should reduce the incidence of interstate conflict. Given those potential benefits, democratization is an entirely worthy foreign policy goal.