Are Drone Strikes the Best Course of Action for the US?

By Zachary Bastiani

The use of drone strikes is a failure at almost every level. Drone strikes fail at killing targets without leaving civilian casualties. The targets that drone strikes kill are often the wrong targets. Drone strikes have failed to prevent terrorism. Drone strikes are the wrong tool to use to win the war; because of the aftermath drone strikes leave once the war is designated as “won.”

In 2015 there were 13 drone strikes in Pakistan with at least 60 deaths, given by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. However, the number of actual citizens killed is unknown. Two citizens were named as causalities of these strikes, but only a total 10 people killed by drone strikes, were named. Based purely upon the verified numbers, the number of civilians killed by these drone strikes could be as few as 12. Please note that number is obtained through induction. To further this, most of the people killed by the drones have not been the intended target. In 2015 the Huffington Post reported that 90 percent of the people killed in drone strikes have not been the intended target. This means that approximately 18 other accidental deaths happened to kill the 2 terrorists. Furthermore, the way in which the military reports kills is quite misleading. The military will often accept the body of a military aged male, 18- 25, as a confirmed kill on an enemy combatant. With this knowledge how much does the unnecessary killing increase? Just this last weekend a drone strike was used in Syria and killed at least 62 Syrian soldiers. This strike is now threatening the weeklong peace treaty that was signed. This attack was supposedly carried out because the Syrian soldiers were thought to be part of a terrorist organization, says The Guardian. This drone strike is believed to have been an accident, however there is no confirmation. What other possible harms are coming from these drone strikes?

After a drone strike is carried out what remains? Often times there are traumatic affects left from drone strikes. Zubair said, “I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are grey”. This idea of the unblinking eye in the sky, that the US wishes to have, can cause serious psychological effects. Furthermore, it causes a similar situation to occur that was written about in the novel 1984, by George Orwell, where people are driven to insanity due to the unblinking eye. To even further the effect that drones have upon people, even the pilots are often seen to be under tremendous stress, as stated by The New York Times. Currently, this psychological damage is occurring, in different ways, to both humans in the US and in other nations, but for what goal?

Ideally, drone strikes are used to protect the lives of American soldiers, while also allowing the US to defeat ISIS, but are the drone strikes working? Increased usage of drone strikes and increased security have been able to prevent another 9/11, but they have failed to prevent other smaller acts of terrorism in the US, that have come from ISIS. The most recently example of this has been demonstrated by the Minnesota stabbing, that took place this last Saturday, where 9 people were killed. This isn’t the first act of terrorism that has happened since 9/11. The worst act of terrorism that has occurred because of ISIS was the Night Club shooting that happened in Orlando, this last June, which killed 49 people and injured 53 others making it the worst mass shooting in American history, given by the International Business Times. Yet, all this has happened while the US has been fighting the war against ISIS. While the US has been able to prevent another 9/11 they haven’t been able to prevent terrorism in the US completely. In fact, the events seem to be getting worse, in terms of death count.

What if we are able to win this war through drone strikes? Will the outcome be favorable? Libya is an example of a country in which drone strikes were used to help win the war, but their country has not gotten much better since the war ended. It has been 5 years since the war ended in Libya and there is still no solid government that has been formed, stated by the USIoP. ISIS is still currently active in Libya. What does this mean for all the countries that the US is currently using drone strikes in? Will their situation get better once the US decides that it has won the war? If anything the US should learn from its past actions. While drone strikes in the Middle East might be the easiest and the safest for US troops, will it proved the best or longest lasting peace without turning the Middle East into a world like 1984?