Does Using Drones to Attack Terrorists Globally Violate International Law

Topics: Taliban, Al-Qaeda, United States Pages: 9 (3437 words) Published: July 24, 2014
Final Paper
Fall 2013 / Introduction to International Relations
Does Using Drones to Attack Terrorists Globally Violate International Law GEORGE BELZER
December 18, 2013


The United States first began the invasion of Afghanistan in October of 2001. Since then, the ensuing war has taken many turns, the most significant of which came when Al Qaeda's figurehead and 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. The two statements that just followed provide a significant number of anomalies to foreign policy experts. First, the country of Afghanistan never declared war on the United States or ever officially threatened its sovereignty. Second, the main aim for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, at least in theory was to capture and kill Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but has since not only shifted to become a war against the Taliban, but also another exercise in nation building. Third, though America (at least publicly) had been chasing Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, he was ultimately captured from about an hour's drive from Pakistan's capital city of Islamabad. Fourth, Osama Bin Laden's assassination came after a blatant violation of Pakistan's national sovereignty by American Special Forces and without the knowledge of its infamously strong military. Fifth, Osama Bin Laden's body was disposed in secrecy, and though the opportunity was there to bring the most wanted man in the world to trial, it was deemed unsuitable for the American cause to do so. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have aided the War on Terror to target top Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein, his sons and other leaders in Iraq. Over seventy Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders in Afghanistan have been killed by drones. These attacks by drones distinctly identified the targets and allowed the United States to limit collateral damage to command centers being used by these leaders. Controversy has surrounded the drone program though as the number of drone attacks have raised. The main issue is the death of civilians by drone attacks because of false identification. However, since 2006 drones have been used to kill 2,431 Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives while limiting civilian deaths to 139 (Roggio & Mayer, 2012). The value that drones have in a war limits casualties for allied forces and allows leaders, to include the President himself, to pick and choose high value targets to attack (Becker & Shane, 2012). However, all these concerns though important, are minimized when compared to the American policy of conducting drone attacks within Afghanistan and Pakistan borders. All of these concerns remain relevant to the issue of drone operations conducted by America within the Afghanistan and Pakistan territories. This paper will analyze the use of drone attacks with a primary focus on whether the use of drones can be justified, and attempt to prove that the use of drones is in fact a moral and an administrative evil.

History and Nature of the Conflict

The concept of conflict here is an interesting one. The word conflict could imply anything; from the "war in Afghanistan" to the "war on terror' and on to the "drone strikes within Pakistan." The major conflict would remain the initial invasion of Afghanistan, since it is from this initial invasion that all other minor conflicts have emerged. The history of conflict is not a redundant issue, rather, only by analyzing important events in the history of conflict can it be determined whether the resulting actions taken in the light of those events are just or not. Additionally, the nature of the conflict is important, as it has the potential to impact several major players in the region, namely Pakistan, Iran, Russia and China. Now that Osama Bin Laden is dead, there are still about 90 thousand American soldiers in Afghanistan (Roggio & Mayer, 2012). The presence of these...

References: Becker, J., & Shane, S. (2012, May 29). Secret ‘kill list’ proves a test of Obama’s principles and will.
Pugliese, Joseph. “Prosthetics of Law and the Anomic Violence of Drones.” Griffith Law Review 20.4 (2011).
“Pressure Builds for Civilian Drones in US.” My Fox News. N.P., 26 02 2012. Web. 18 Mar 2012.
Roggio, B. & Mayer, A. (2012). Charting the data for us airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2012.
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