Armed drones are starting to rule the skies, but the United States' monopoly over their use is fading. The Obama administration should nurture a regime to limit drone proliferation, similar to efforts to control nuclear weapons and missiles, write Sarah Kreps and Micah Zenko.
It is a common misperception that drones are proliferating widely throughout the world, when in reality, this is an over exaggerated and misleading assumption. Micah Zenko and Sarah Kreps argue that this "apparent runaway train of drone proliferation (and its misreported uses) is actually stymieing efforts to promote or influence responsible armed-drone exports and their uses."
Sarah Kreps engages recent debates about whether to ban drones or targeted killings and argues that both sides of the debate miss important links between the technology and the policy: that the domestic politics and operational advantages of drones have made what would be an unviable policy—fairly frequent targeted killings—more viable.
In the debut issue of PoliticoMagazine, Micah Zenko discusses the current drone market and implications of inevitable proliferation of armed drones. Citing the White House's lack of reform and transparency, Micah writes, "When Chinese officials authorize their first drone strike against a drug kingpin in Myanmar or against Japanese citizens occupying a disputed East China Sea island, what will the White House say then?"
Following the death of Hakimullah Mehsud, Daniel Markey writes, "U.S. military and intelligence officers should approach their Pakistani counterparts with a plan to press their military advantage against the Taliban during its period of disarray."
"There remain distinctly different approaches to 'finding, fixing and finishing' terrorist targets. The two organizations also use different approaches to producing the 'intelligence feeds' upon which drone operations rely. Perhaps more importantly, after years of conducting drone strikes, the CIA has developed an expertise and a taste for them. The DOD's appetite to take over that mission may not run very deep."
Compared to previous years, the Obama administration has wisely reduced the number of drone strikes that it conducts. Micah Zenko discusses why the United States' restraint in conducting strikes and rejection of demands for U.S. drone strikes on behalf of other countries are wise policy choices.
"While drones have attracted considerable attention, we know little about how effective they are as tools of punishment and deterrence. In particular, it is not clear how, if at all, drones differ from other technologies of violence, what experience with broadly similar technologies in past conflicts suggests will be the likely consequences of drone strikes, and what systematic analysis of the available evidence suggests about the effects of the drone campaigns. This monograph seeks to address these open questions."
"Should the United States continue targeted killings in Yemen without addressing the consequences of killing civilians and taking responsibility for unlawful deaths, it risks further angering many Yemenis and handing another recruiting card to AQAP."
"The cases in this report raise serious concerns that the USA has unlawfully killed people in drone strikes, and that such killings may amount in some cases to extrajudicial executions or war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law. Like other forces operating in the Tribal Areas, the USA appears to be exploiting the lawless and remote nature of the region to evade accountability for its violations."
"For decades the model for understanding PTSD has been 'fear conditioning': quite literally the lasting psychological ramifications of mortal terror. But a term now gaining wider acceptance is 'moral injury.' It represents a tectonic realignment, a shift from a focusing on the violence that has been done to a person in wartime toward his feelings about what he has done to others—or what he's failed to do for them."
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Countering Terrorism, Ben Emmerson, released an interim report on his study of drone strikes and targeted killings on October 17, 2013. The study, which began in January 2013 and will issue a final report in 2014, reports on the use of remotely piloted aircraft in counter-terrorism operations.
The UN Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns delivered this report to the sixty-eighth general assembly on September 13, 2013. The report is related to the UN's agenda for promotion and protection of human rights, and focuses on the use of lethal force through armed drones.
A divergence of opinions between males and females is an "enduring characteristic of polls on the use of military force, regardless of the weapons system employed, military mission undertaken, whether the intervening force is unilateral or multilateral, and the strategic objective proposed," says Micah Zenko. Citing polls from the early 1990s to today, he investigates why this persistent difference in opinion exists and what it may mean for U.S. foreign policy.
Following President Barack Obama's remarks on the Trayvon Martin case, Micah Zenko highlights the inconsistency in Obama's policies towards justice. Although the president has stated in reference to the case that it is wrong to profile individuals based on their "appearance, associations, or statistical propensity to violence," and the use of lethal force cannot be justified as self-defense unless there is reasonable grounds to fear imminent harm, those are the exact foundational principles of U.S. signature strikes.
The Obama administration relies on drones for one simple reason: they work. Drone strikes have devastated al Qaeda at little financial cost, at no risk to U.S. forces, and with fewer civilian casualties than many alternative methods would have caused.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The author examines Pakistan's complex role in U.S. foreign policy and advocates for a two-pronged approach that works to quarantine threats while integrating Pakistan into the broader U.S. agenda in Asia.