Bader: Drone strikes cause more problems than they solve

Anthony Bader

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, more commonly known as drones, have been in use for years but have recently become a topic of controversy because of their increased use by the Obama administration. The U.S. military uses drones to do surveillance in hostile areas and to conduct missile strikes on military targets. Drones are praised for being precise in their strikes, which arguably reduces civilian casualties. Additionally, since no one is in the drones, they keep soldiers out of the line of fire.

Overall, the purpose of drones in the Middle East is to reduce the danger of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil by eliminating terrorists overseas, but is this really the best solution?

When suspected militants are bombed rather than captured, a negative precedent is set. Typically when people commit crimes, they are captured and put on trial. The military and CIA use intelligence they gather in order to find suspected militants and eliminate them rather than capture them.

Even some of the most notorious Nazis were put on trial after WWII rather than being killed immediately. Many of them were still sentenced to death, but the fact that specific charges were presented regarding a specific person meant that even among terrible war conditions, justice could be dealt evenly and openly. It shows that the world is more civil than the people carrying out these terrible, violent acts. Conversely, our government’s use of drones is comparable to the methods of those we fight.

The way drones are being used against terrorists is, by itself, the same way planes are used during war. In war, however, there is usually a specific enemy, and the goal is to eliminate that enemy. Our country is not at war with anyone, and no one has declared war on us. Militants are then being killed by drones simply for affiliating with terrorist organizations, and not because they have declared war.

Drone strikes in Pakistan do not even have the approval of the Pakistani government. This past year, the United Nations conducted a counter-terrorism and human rights investigation concerning drone strikes in Pakistan. It revealed that Pakistan has not consented to any drone strikes in its country. This means that the U.S. is bombing people in a sovereign nation without that country’s approval.

In many cases, innocent people are killed in drone strikes along with suspected terrorists. There have been numerous instances of civilians in Pakistan and Yemen killed by drones that were attempting to eliminate targets associated with terrorist groups. When civilians are killed in these attacks, public opinion of America plummets in those countries. This negative view towards America makes it easier for terrorist groups to recruit people in that country. Essentially, by trying to kill terrorists, we are creating more.

Does our government really think that attempting to eliminate all militants affiliated with Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations is an attainable goal? The people joining these groups are doing so because they feel an ideological obligation to join that organization’s cause. They are not going to be scared away by military force precisely because they believe their cause is worth the risk of death.

This does not mean we should make no effort to protect our country from terrorist attacks. It also does not mean we should help no other governments fight militants in their countries. It means we should change our methods.

What would be more effective is to work with each country’s government to improve their education and infrastructure. Terrorist organizations are able to recruit more people by spreading misinformation and capitalizing on bad will toward America and other western countries. Giving money to help education and infrastructure in other countries, for example, would establish to the people of foreign nations that the U.S. as a positive ally and not a recklessly destructive force in their country. There is no simple solution to quelling violence in the middle east, but using drones to increase violence isn’t a solution at all.