It has been common practice for a number of years for some countries to use unmanned aerial vehicles – better known as drones – in order to attack enemy combatants.
Drones are remotely-controlled aircrafts that are armed with either missiles or bombs. Many nations are associated with drone strikes, with the USA and Russia among those to deploy them the most.
While many have heralded the effectiveness of drones, others have criticised their destructive impact, and the potential for civilian deaths. This topic has caused a lot of debate over the years.
Drone strikes have been used on a consistent basis within the last decade. Following the 9/11 atrocity by Islamic terrorists, the United States started to use drone strikes as part of their “War on Terror”. By the end of the 2000s, drone strikes were common.
While drone strikes are most associated with the United States, many other nations have used drone strikes. These include Israel, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Russia and Pakistan among others. Many other nations, e.g., China, are known to have drones in their military arsenals.
Drone strikes have caused controversy. Many believe they are an excellent way of killing enemies and high-profile targets without risking the lives of soldiers on the ground.
However, others point to how drone strikes can cause civilian casualties, or even lead to the creation of more terrorists. Both sides of the argument have many intriguing points to them.
Arguments Supporting Drone Strikes
There are several arguments that support the use of drone strikes:
- Drone strikes have the intention of killing targets that could pose a security threat to a nation. This security threat could kill hundreds of people. Therefore, when drone strikes work at their best – they can save hundreds of lives. A colossal number of lives have been saved thanks to drone strikes in recent decades.
- Drone strikes have a history of being highly-effective. They have a proven track record for decimating terrorist networks, including top commanders and terrorist followers.
- A common criticism of drone strikes is the threat to civilians. However, statistics show that drones are more effective than bombs or mines in terms of lowering civilian casualties.
- It could be argued that there is actually very little alternative to drone strikes. A country has a right to defend itself, and in this day and age, a “boots on the ground” approach is widely seen as a last resort. Therefore, drone strikes offer a good attack without risking the lives of soldiers.
- In nations that have been overran by militants, drone strikes can be used to help the Government regain control. This has happened in the nation of Iraq, for example. This shows how drone strikes can be successful.
- Drone strikes are not set off indiscriminately. Instead, several criteria needs to be met before a drone strike can be launched. In most countries, a drone strike order will need to come from a high-ranking officer that has been briefed on the ongoing situation.
- Polls have shown that the majority of citizens in nations that have made drones support the use of drone strikes. A government should listen to its people, and this is an example where they have.
- War is also known to be a common trigger for the debilitating mental health condition Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD causes problems for huge numbers of people, especially those who served in wars. Therefore, drone strikes can lower PTSD rates.
Arguments Against Drone Strikes
There are also many arguments that are against the use of drone strikes:
- It could be argued that drone strikes are never going to eradicate the problem of terrorism. It could be seen as yet another short-term fix as opposed to a long-term solution. After all, terrorists that are killed will usually be replaced.
- Drone strikes have killed a huge number of innocent civilians. While some point to this supposedly being a necessary evil, it is inexcusable for innocent civilians to lose their life in a conflict that they play no part in. It is a mass violation of their human rights.
- Drone strikes can also have the unintended consequence of creating more terrorists than it kills. For example, if a nation was to conduct a drone strike that kills 2 terrorists and 3 civilians, the family of the 3 civilians and their friends may become furious and motivated for revenge against the nation. Therefore, more terrorists could be created.
- Some people are forced to live on edge, even in their homes. Some areas come under heavy strikes, for civilians living in these locations, it is incredibly difficult to go about day-to-day life. It often results in a traumatic situation.
- There is very little accountability over drone strikes. It isn’t always clear who orders drone strikes to take place. For instance, not all drones will be a success, and some unfortunately kill civilians. But when this happens, no one is held accountable, which seems unfair.
- Another big issue caused by drone strikes is the sheer cost involved. One drone strike alone is believed to cost around $3million, which is a colossal amount. If a nation conducts multiple strikes, then the cost can get enormous.
- Drone strikes risk inflaming relations between different nations. This is because drone strikes are often carried out without the permission of the nation being attacked. This can lead to air space being violated, tension and potential future problems.
- Finally, who is really to say who is “good”, and who is “bad”? After all, one man’s terrorist is someone else’s freedom fighter. There are two sides to every story, which must be remembered.
As the above arguments show, there are strong arguments for the use of drone strikes, but there are also many compelling arguments against the use of drone strikes. This is why this is such a difficult topic.
Please take the time to cast your vote below on drone strikes, and see how everyone else who has read this article feels about this issue. We will be able to see a consensus.