Drone Usage: Any Rational Objections?

Here’s a question: What’s the rational, logical objection to “drone” strikes?

I’ve read and heard a lot of rhetoric opposing the use of strikes from unmanned” aerial vehicles (UAV) by the U.S., but I don’t see a clear, rational objection. The opposition talks of civilian casualties and the horror of watching people die in detail from the sky. The bulk of their argument, is appeal to emotion. I can understand opposition to killing, and especially the killing of civilians, but is the objection to the idea of attempting to kill the insurgents who are targeted, or the use of UAVs to do it? Would manned aircraft, infantry or tanks be better? What’s more efficient?

I believe that the word “drone” in itself gathers a bit of hysteria; I remember being a child learning the word “drone” dealing with social insects such as bees. So in my opinion the word “drone” is associated with the concept, “hive”. I never been a fan of euphemistic language, so I don’t recommend calling them something else; the change of words isn’t going to change the condition. I like to point out that the vehicle IS controlled by a person. Being an “unmanned” aerial vehicle denotes the fact that there isn’t a man controlling it from a cockpit within the vehicle; it’s being controlled by a man still. This isn’t Skynet or Matrix; any automatic function is no different than cruise control, or the automatic flight path technology that’s found in passenger planes. They are not sentient, sapient devices. Yes, that had to be said. I also like to point out the drones are practically useless in a war (or battlespace) that the drone users do not already have air superiority. We cannot just fly drones over China or Iran, for example, because they would force a landing or shoot them down. In fact, any nation with a marginal air force can just shoot these down. With that being said, allow me to examine a couple of counter arguments:

The “Sovereign Nation” Argument
I never bought into the sovereign nation argument. Take Pakistan for example, where the overwhelming majority of the drone strikes occur. Pakistan for example, has an Air Force with relatively modern interceptor aircraft, including F-16s and JF-17s. The “outrage” is politically driven. The drones used, are huge, and loud. While the government of Pakistan may insist that the U.S. stop using drones, fringe logic indicates that Pakistan can shoot these things down anytime they wish, therefore implies that their government is fine with what the U.S. is doing. Specifically, terminating insurgents and political enemies who are not exactly friendly with the Pakistani government in the first place, and providing a distraction from inward social ills.

It’s Like a Video Game! (Slippery Slopes)
The video game argument attempts to make it a point that this technology makes killing easier, thus enabling one to kill indiscriminately. The flaw in this notion, is that it assumes the disposition of the pilot (yes, they are called pilots) and it assumes that the killing is running rampant. While the disposition of the pilot can be challenged, the amount of strikes is not at all that high in comparison to other ways one can die in Pakistan. 3,549 strikes took place ever since we began in 2004. But this is NINE YEARS of time; this averaged out equals 394 kills per year. What’s more, is that the government of Pakistan itself states that only three percent of people killed since 2008 (makes the number 2,227) were civilians. Three percent of 2,227 is 67 — a low number, indicating that the killing isn’t as rampant and mindless as alarmists state.

Disposition? The pilots are treated with the same care that actual cockpit-based pilots are; proper sleep, total health evaluations. Is it a moot point, that war technology advancements make people uneasy in general? If the internet existed in World War I and II, there would be the same hysterical objection in journalism and the blogosphere, and we’d have the same conversations concerning the biplane and main battle tank. Unfortunately, all war tech makes it easier to kill, from the bronze age, to the jet age, to the information age. Technology marches on.

The “Send a Squad” Argument
This sounds reasonable to a person who does not know the terrain of the battlefield. But to the person who knows war logistics and knows the terrain, this doesn’t work, and it’s naive at best. The U.S. uses their ground forces when it’s applicable, or best to do so. Drone strikes are used where terrain and logistics simply doesn’t allow ingress/egress of ground forces. These places are in far off, isolated areas that are largely ungoverned. This also implies a point in reverse; We don’t use drone strikes in places of positive control. They are not used in a, for example, bustling metropolis where civilian deaths would be an obvious result. These are the precise reasons why you’ll never see an FBI or CIA “drone strike” in the United States — why send a drone when you can just knock on their door? We don’t need drones in places we exercise positive control. There is NO positive control in the regions drones are used.

Gives Them a Reason to Hate Us
So it may make more insurgents and/or terrorists in the future? I can understand that and I’ll rate that as hypothetically true. However, the majority of terrorists or insurgents already have reasons to hate us, reasons to fight. Terrorism and insurgencies have existed long before the advent of the drone strike. This is circular logic, at best. The reason why we are there is because they caught us while we were sleeping and refused to give up the leader and the group responsible. They are not being pursued into the deep isolated stretches of the world for the hell of it. They already hate us, and are not short on reasons to fight.

He Who chases Monsters

Of course, with any emotion-driven debate, the point is raised that it is the U.S., who are terrorists, and if not, we are becoming one. Each time I heard any version of this in a debate, the opposing person WILL obfuscate “terrorist” into one who makes someone else “terrified”, and being that they are afraid of getting shot, blown up or otherwise killed, we are terrorists. This, has to be the dumbest crock of minotaurian fecal matter that ever will be heard in this discussion. A basic human fear of death doesn’t equal any or all things that may take lives as a “terrorist act”.  INTENT, purpose, matters. Terrorism is the systematic use of violence as a means of coercion to change political policy, and deliberately targets or disregard the safety of non-combatants, with and intent of establishing that your government cannot help you; supposed to make a government look inept or powerless in the face of it’s people; destroy a sense of national security. Terrorism has a “whatcha gonna do after that, punk?” factor to it, towards a particular governance. Governments typically don’t like terrorism; it coerces them to do things people generally don’t want to do, or things people generally don’t like. There IS a measure of security (either too high or too low), that leads to social discomfort.

Let’s get one thing straight — if the United States actually wanted to INTENTIONALLY strike non-combatants, it could easily use cluster-bomb munitions, without expensive microchips and guidance systems, and just carpet bomb the crap out of a given area. But even still, there is no governing body to coerce to force hands. Intent and purpose, matters.

So that’s a small rundown on the drone debate. Where do you stand? Now in every war era, war tech gets civilianized. We are bound to see drones (non armed) in the United States more. While I can build an argument on drones in warfare, I don’t like the hypothetical notion of a drone accidentally crashing into my parked car, or someone shooting down a drone, intercepting my amazon.com package. I might not be able to make peace with that. One thing that you can count on is the fact technology will march on, and that’s The Bigger Picture.


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  1. crash102

    January 4, 2014 at 1:07 am

    This is a fairly uneducated argument. First, do you realize that US drone strikes have killed somewhere between 400-500 civilians in just the last 2-3 years. That may not seem like many to you but that 400-500 innocent men, women and CHILDREN that have basically been murdered by US drones. Most of those deaths have been inside Pakistan so technically they aren’t even causalities of war, they were technically murdered by illegal drone strikes on a sovereign country. And by the way, just because Pakistan isn’t shooting down our drones does not mean they support the strikes. In fact they have publicly condemned the strikes numerous times and even closed their ports and overland supply routes to our Military awhile back because of strikes, maybe you remember that. On top of that, we regularly use stealth drones (like the one brought down over Iran) so their air force would be hard pressed to shoot them down. Furthermore, the Pakistani’s don’t have regular military bases or monitoring capabilities in the FATA so they most likely never get any advanced warning of a drone strike.

    And for you to say that the sovereign nation argument is stupid just shows your own ignorance. You do realize that America is legally obligated to recognize the sovereignty of other countries right? We can’t just kill whoever we want wherever we want. Pakistan is a sovereign nation and we are not at war with them. The use of drones over Pakistan is technically an act of war and thereby illegal since no war was authorized by Congress.

    And in point of fact, it does give them another reason to hate us. I fact insurgent group operating in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the FATA already use this topic as a recruiting tool. Your logic that they “already hate us” is a joke. So what you’re saying is that since they already hate us we can treat them however we want because it doesn’t matter. That is not only disgusting but entirely stupid and ignorant.

    Drone strikes, while an effective tool in a COMBAT ZONE, are entirely illegal when launched against countries with which we are not at war. For that reason alone they should be stopped in all areas outside Afghanistan. But I don’t suppose you trouble yourself with things like the Constitution.

  2. The Bigger Picture

    January 4, 2014 at 2:42 am

    Crash, welcome back! I hope your New Year’s Day went well. Thanks for also attending this discussion and letting it be known here you stand; that’s what this is about.

    The Pakistani Minister of Defense to the senate stated that since 2008, only 3% of the casualties were civilian. That’s Pakistan speaking, not us. And while I love the Constitution, unfortunately for this debate Pakistan does not share it, thus doesn’t care about our Constitution.

    The Constitution doesn’t apply in Pakistan any more than Shariah Law applies in the States. It’s arrogant to assume that our law is world law; it is not.

  3. The Bigger Picture

    January 4, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Where are you getting your numbers from? Can you cite a source? And you DO know that insurgents ARE civilians, correct? You DO know that it’s standard operating procedure to remove weapons and incriminating material from a drone strike to be it appear as if they were innocent, correct?

    And the frontier areas of Pakistan, is a perpetual warzone, and is largely an extension of the war in Afghanistan. Thus, that battlespace is a part of Operation Enduring Freedom / ISAF NATO anyway.

    “We can’t just kill who ever we want wherever we want.”

    ^That’s a straw argument; it’s a whole lot more complicated than that, don’t come in here calling things ignorant back and forth and then come up with an notably flawed straw argument that’s not the case.

    • crash102

      January 4, 2014 at 3:24 am

      “The Constitution doesn’t apply in Pakistan”, did you really just say that? Wow. Of course the Constitution does not apply to Pakistan, it applies to us you moron. It states that all acts of war undertaken by US FORCES must be authorized by Congress. Dropping bombs inside the borders of another country is considered an act of war. Since no declaration of war was authorized by Congress against Pakistan those bombings are illegal according to US and international law. Just because there are Taliban living in the FATA does mean that region is part of the “battlespace”. The FATA is within the borders of Pakistan and is Pakistani territory. We have no legal authority to conduct military actions within that region. And no, the FATA region is not a perpetual war zone, in fact before we invaded Afghanistan was a relatively peaceful and self-sufficient region of Pakistan. And even if it was a perpetual war zone that would give us no right to bomb it as I have already explained to you that that is a violation of both US and international law. Your problem is that you’re substituting your own opinions for actual laws governing this topic. You need to do some serious research on Constitutional and International law. As for a source for the civilian body count, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/18/us-drone-strikes-civilian-casualties_n_4122031.html and this one http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/31/deaths-drone-strikes-obama-policy-change while you’re at it you should do a lot of research on the origins and motivations of terrorism, you don’t seem to have a very good grasp of the subject.

  4. The Bigger Picture

    January 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    ““The Constitution doesn’t apply in Pakistan”, did you really just say that? Wow. Of course the Constitution does not apply to Pakistan, it applies to us you moron”

    ^^Butthurt much? Have some sort of personal sake at it? Mad over the fact you were dead wrong and someone named Ebb and Flow shut you up prior? Yes that has to be said, because you act like it does.

    “It states that all acts of war undertaken by US FORCES must be authorized by Congress.”

    ^^It also allows the Executive Branch to exercise a certain amount of limited kinetic action without Congressional declaration of war, FACT. I suggest you try reading the Constitution as well as it’s Amendments, for it is a living document as intended.

    “Just because there are Taliban living in the FATA does mean that region is part of the “battlespace”.”

    ^^This is getting idiotic. Yes, that region is a part of the battlespace of OEF/ISAF NATO. Have you fought there before? Do you know what you are talking about?

    ” The FATA is within the borders of Pakistan and is Pakistani territory.”

    ^^Yes, and because of this Pakistan actively or passively, allows us to operate there, and can end agreement anytime they wish.

    “Your problem is that you’re substituting your own opinions for actual laws governing this topic.”

    ^^Your problem, is that you are butthurt over the racial awareness topics that someone named Ebb and Flow kindly handed you your ass in, for lack of a better word, and your misplaced anger bled over into another article… Which makes you ignore facts spoken. Sexual frustration? I think you should begin approaching different articles objectively, without your unstable emotional baggage.

    Your articles posted seem to use less accurate numbers in comparison to this one: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/31/civilian-drone-deaths-pakistan-report_n_4180293.html

    Being that PAKISTAN ITSELF SAID that only 3 (three, tres, drei) percent of the casualties (since 2008) were civilians. That means that drone strikes, 97% of the time, are not hitting civilians at all, Crash. That’s a very safe number to assess all else based on proportion. Further, I remember a Pakistani journalist stating that first responders typically don’t get there in time to make accurate numbers. Unless it’s in a bustling metropolis, this will prove true everywhere else… add the fact that high-value target individuals typically stay with sympathizers and folks who are complicit in what they do.

    You conveniently ignore the fact that it’s SOP for those sympathizers to arrive there first (because authorities are farther than they appear) and SANITIZE the area, to make it appear civilian.

    And you duck the moot point that all insurgents, and/or terrorists, ARE civilians in nature.

    • crash102

      January 4, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      ^^It also allows the Executive Branch to exercise a certain amount of limited kinetic action without Congressional declaration of war, FACT. I suggest you try reading the Constitution as well as it’s Amendments, for it is a living document as intended.- I would love for you to quote the exact part of the Constitution that allows this. Go ahead and look for it. You can look all day because it doesn’t exist. You’re so ignorant on this topic it’s sad.

      ^^This is getting idiotic. Yes, that region is a part of the battlespace of OEF/ISAF NATO. Have you fought there before? Do you know what you are talking about?- As a matter of fact I have fought there and I know for a fact that incursions into Pakistan are strictly off limits.

      ^^Yes, and because of this Pakistan actively or passively, allows us to operate there, and can end agreement anytime they wish.- The Pakistani’s don’t like what we’re doing there, the people don’t like it and the government doesn’t like it. Remember this: http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/operations/195489-pakistan-cuts-off-supply-lines-to-us-troops-in-afghanistan-following-nato-airstrike Remember how upset they were when we went in without their permission to kill bin Laden? They don’t like us doing what we’re doing. They have said so on numerous occasions.

      Your bit about only 3% are civilian deaths doesn’t mean a thing. The UN states that nearly 500 civilians have been killed by drones. Whether that represents 3% or 100% makes no difference. We have murdered nearly 500 innocent people. You can’t paint that into a pretty picture, you can’t rationalize that away. It’s entirely unjustified. You’re so horribly uneducated and unschooled on this subject it is truly sad. It’s sad that whoever runs this site even allows you to write this ignorant, misguided, inaccurate nonsense.

  5. The Bigger Picture

    January 4, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Human Shield Usage:

    There’s a double standard in super butthurt liberal hippie Crash ALLOWING enemies of the United States to use human shields. If a Soldier or Marine does it, I’m sure your common sense would finally kick in and call it a deplorable act.

    Using human shields may get people killed, and honestly that on the responsibility of the targeted individual to NOT use human shields as a measure of their own personal safety. In reverse, if Joe Al Qaeda wants to go to your wedding, DON’T INVITE HIM. I’m sure you don’t befriend drug dealers and drug gang enforcers, all for the same reasons.

    • crash102

      January 4, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      I proved to you that these attacks are a violation of US law and because I think it’s wrong to violate the Constitution I’m a liberal hippie? Most liberal hippies don’t actually believe in the Constitution so you’re entirely wrong there.

      So your logic now is that since they’re using human shields we should bomb them. So if a crook takes a hostage during a standoff should the cops shoot the hostage? You’re fucking stupid dude. You’re so far off track here it’s hilarious.

  6. The Bigger Picture

    January 4, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Thank you, Angry and Insecure Avid Reader.

    Unfortunately, “U.S. Law” has holes in it that allows drone attacks to take place.

    Being that you are such an avid law fellow, why don’t you launch a series of indictments towards the United States then? Since it ever so can be done, why don’t you lead the way? Good look attempting to use JURISPRUDENCE to PROVE what precise instruments used. You say stealth, but you are SPECULATING and you HAVE NO PROOF.

  7. The Bigger Picture

    January 4, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    “We have murdered nearly 500 innocent people.”

    ^Being that you know every edge of law text known to man, you DO know there’s a distinction in law between killing and murder? OR are you simply making an emotion-based argument now, using emotion-driving word selection?

    Kill =/= Murder. While murder involves killing, not every kill is a murder, this is why legal terms like “homicide” and “manslaughter” exist.

    Check this argument fallacy called the “Hasty Generalization”. I’ll even you you out, Crash.

    While you are act it, read a law dictionary or glossary so you made that simple distinction next time.

  8. The Bigger Picture

    January 4, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    “You’re so far off track here it’s hilarious.”

    No, you are. Why don’t you actually quote me verbatim before attempting to build a straw argument (put words in my mouth)and pretend I’m saying something that I am not. That’s why your hasty, arrogant ass got burned and shut down my last article; and it wasn’t even by me.

  9. The Bigger Picture

    January 4, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Since you are so big and bad “crash”, why don’t you find proof that any or all killing equals a murder?

    Because if you do a brief look around, there’s

    involuntary manslaughter
    Negligent homicide
    Vehicular homicide
    Non-criminal homicide
    Food prep
    Assisted suicide
    Capital punishment
    Human sacrifice
    Justifiable homicide
    Capital punishment

    ^The list goes on. Sure, Murder is a part of that list, but being that there’s a distinction between differing circumstances and types of killing (homicide), you cannot equate all killing into murder.

    So, can you support your hysterical implication that all killings equal murder? Or will you calm down, have a drink, and actually have CIVIL discourse?

    Are you capable of civil discourse?

  10. The Bigger Picture

    January 4, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    “Most liberal hippies don’t actually believe in the Constitution so you’re entirely wrong there.”

    ^Most hippies make arguments based on emotion, and run off of emotion, as you currently are. And how do you know what a hippie believes or not? Hippies must believe in the constitution otherwise they wouldn’t seek to change it.

    You can’t change something you deny the existence of, stupid.

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