Drone strikes have become America’s principal weapon in its war on terror, and have been increasingly embraced by other countries as well as insurgent groups like the Islamic State. This chapter covers drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, as weapons of war. It first describes how drone technology evolved. It then moves to the contemporary context, detailing how the United States uses drones for counterterrorism in ways that have transformed the battlefield and spurred interest in drone acquisition by others. This chapter takes stock of how drones change the way war is fought, whether drone strikes are legal, ethical, and effective, what drone proliferation means for regional and international security, how drones affect the democratic conduct of war, and the future of drone warfare. The chapter addresses these questions with a case study of drone strikes in Pakistan and a summary of a quantitative study that evaluates the effectiveness of drone strikes.
Most appropriate for classes on war and politics, international security, and US foreign policy.
Why this chapter is different:
●Only analysis of drone warfare that incorporates current scholarly analysis and targets undergraduate readers
●Case study that applies insights to a specific context of Pakistan, the location where the United States has engaged in the most drone strikes
●Relevance to ongoing policy debates about perpetual war, the separation of powers in wartime, and effective counterterrorism strategy
Dr. Sarah Kreps is Associate Professor of Government and Adjunct Professor of Law at Cornell University. She is the author of several books, including Drone Warfare (Polity Press, 2014; with John Kaag) and Drones: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2016).