Two Types Of Drone Strikes And What It Means For The Future Of International Terrorism


two types of drone strikes

The Obama administration has claimed that they only kill people who are plotting against the United States and not carrying out a terrorist attack. However, many have criticized this approach as not taking the appropriate measure to prevent more attacks on American soil. On the other hand, many are also wondering how drone strikes work and if they are fair. Two types of drone strikes have been discussed in an article posted at the Forward Online. These two types include killing an American and killing a non-American.

Drone Strike Campaign In Pakistan

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Many people are worried about the targeting of civilians. As we know, the United States is engaging in a drone strike campaign in Pakistan, Yemen, and Iraq to stop these international terrorists from carrying out their plans. As mentioned, these drone strikes should only be done when there is a very solid reason to do so. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the United States was conducting drone strikes in Yemen almost constantly in the past year. However, it also stated that the United States had only carried out one such strike, which resulted in the death of a senior operational member of al Qaeda.

US Engages In A War In Afghanistan

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Additionally, the United States has several drones in Afghanistan. These drones operate off of Air Force bases in Afghanistan. As previously stated, the United States is engaged in a war in Afghanistan. When these drones accidentally go into Pakistani territory or any other nation for that matter, then it can be considered strikes inside the meaning of the United States’ 10th Amendment. Therefore, these actions are considered to be unlawful.

However, killing non-Americans conducting a hostile act against the United States can be considered justified. The United States has a right to carry out targeted drone strikes where lives are being taken. For example, when a United States citizen is assisting a friendly nation without a good intention of receiving assistance, then the United States may carry out strikes against that individual. Similarly, when children are being abducted by terrorists or others who wish to harm Americans, then the United States has the right to carry out drone strikes on that person.

Osama Bin Laden’s Event

However, the Pakistani government made an interesting argument when addressing Osama bin Laden’s events. It has pointed out that bin Laden was a dual American citizen. Thus, taking this argument to an international court would essentially allow the United States to carry out drone strikes inside Pakistan if it deems it necessary to do so. This would essentially nullify any claim of protection under Pakistani law that would give drone strike victims protection against American citizens

In a September 2020 article, USA Today published an interesting piece describing Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) position on drone strikes. According to King, drone strikes must respect the law of nations with which the United States is at war. Specifically, King said, “If a nation-state that is our enemy takes action to kill a US citizen in that nation-state, we will not hesitate to take action to prevent that attack. However, if that nation-state fails to take action to prevent the killing of US citizens overseas, we cannot go into war with that nation-state, but we will be ready to defend ourselves.”

While this sounds like a rather obvious proposition, many people don’t seem to understand the distinction. In Yemen, for example, they’ve been killing civilians in the street. And yet, in Afghanistan, they’ve been killing far more people in twice the frequency. And yet, when discussing drones, the United States has not even mentioned killing anyone without notice. There is some sense that they might be using excessive force when taking out an enemy. Yet, they have not even stepped up to the plate and established a clear policy about capturing or killing any non-combatant worldwide.

Final Words

Perhaps, it is time that we asked some hard questions of the United States regarding these strikes and their definition of pre-combatant killing. Have they ever defined when an American is a legitimate target? If they do not have such a definition, how can they claim to be conducting such drone warfare? Has the United States become too loose with its terminology and definition of war, and are we allowing our military to pick and choose who we shoot at? These are all questions that we need to ask, perhaps most importantly, before we start authorizing more drone warfare in the future.

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