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Wed Feb 6, 2013, 05:01 PM

The Strategic Effects of a Lethal Drones Policy

The Strategic Effects of a Lethal Drones Policy
Understanding drones in a broader context.

Drones have become a major policy tool in U.S. counterterrorism policy. In at least five countries – Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – U.S. drones patrol the skies and occasionally are used to launch lethal strikes against suspected terrorists. Drones have also become the primary topic of debate within the policy community.


The U.S. first targeted a suspected terrorist with a lethal drone strike in 2002. On November 5, 2002, a US Predator Drone fired a hellfire missile at a car traveling through the Mar’ib province of Yemen, destroying it and killing the six people inside. One of the dead was a US citizen. One of the dead was the country’s most senior level al Qaeda operative, wanted for the October 12, 2000 bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors.

Two years later, a U.S. drone targeted Nek Muhammad Wazir, the leader of an insurgency in Northwest Pakistan. Officials had accused Wazir of harboring al Qaeda and Taliban figures...Over the next seven years, the frequency of drone strikes in Pakistan increased steadily. Under President Bush there was a drone strike about once every forty days; under President Obama that increased to one drone strike every four days...During this same increase in drone strikes, however, U.S. relations with Pakistan have plummeted. In January of 2011, Raymond Davis, a man later identified as a CIA contractor developing targets for the drones program, killed two Pakistani men during a botched mugging in Lahore. The popular uproar in Pakistan was immediate and vehement. More interesting, during his arrest and trial, the U.S. seemed to have suspended drone operations in the country. The day after Davis was released from Pakistani custody, drone strikes resumed.

Over the course of 2011, lethal drone strikes have reportedly taken place in Yemen (the first such strike in nine years) and Somalia. At the same time, drones continue to be used to lethally target suspected terrorists in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Despite this expansion, there has been very little public discussion about the overall strategic effects of this program: it kills suspected terrorists, but does that killing materially contribute to reducing the growth and threat posed by terrorist groups?

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Reply The Strategic Effects of a Lethal Drones Policy (Original post)
ProSense Feb 2013 OP
ProSense Feb 2013 #1

Response to ProSense (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 05:45 PM

1. Kick! n/t

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