The U.S. is using drones more and more under the Obama administration. Not so much, I think, because of Obama, but because the technology is bearing fruit at this time in the history of warfare.

Drones can gather intel as well is shoot missiles. 

The advantage is that the drone pilots can be safe far from the battlefield. My father has a friend who has a daughter who flies drones in Afghanistan from a base in the Southwestern U.S. Then she goes home, after killing people during the day, to her husband and kids in the evening.

This is the future of warfare. Is it better or worse?

One thing to bear in mind: drones, like any military technology will be used against us someday.

Your thoughts?

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I'm no sure if you're playing ignorant or ARE ignorant, but yes, while the borders have shifted over the years, Persia did become modern day Iran,

If you already knew that, well, perhaps someone else here doesn't.

Yes, I already knew that, doesn't everyone?

A sobering article that puts a different face on drone attacks by Gwynne Dyer
“Double tap” is what mobsters do when they put somebody down. One bullet in the heart, one in the head. That way they stay down. It’s practically standard operating procedure among hitmen.

Then there’s a different, nastier kind of “double tap.’’ Suppose you live in some hill village in western Pakistan, and one of the families nearby has a boy fighting with the Taliban who has come home for a visit, bringing several friends with him. It’s worrisome, because you are always hearing American drones overhead ― and sure enough, one day there is a terrifying explosion and his house is destroyed.

What do you do now? There was a whole extended family living in that house: children, old folks, a cousin or two. Some of them are probably still alive under the rubble, perhaps badly injured. Do you rush over and help to dig them out? Better not. The Predator or Reaper drone (lovely names) will wait until all the neighbors have gathered round, and then launch a second Hellfire missile onto the site. Double tap.

“These strikes are becoming much more common,” Mirza Shahbad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who represents the victims of drone strikes, told “The Independent” newspaper recently. “In the past it used to be a one-off, now and then. Now almost every other attack is a double tap. There is no justification for it.”

Stanford University’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic and New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic have just released a report, based on nine months of research and 130 interviews, which concludes that barely 2 percent of the victims of U.S. drone strikes were known militants. That’s not to say that everybody else killed or injured was an innocent civilian, but these are definitely not “surgical” strikes.

The best estimate of the number of people killed in U.S. drone strikes over the past eight years comes from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism: between 2,532 and 3,251 dead in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Of those, between 475 and 879 deaths were civilian non-combatants who just happened to be nearby when the Hellfire hit ― often because they were trying to rescue survivors from an earlier strike.

The Stanford/New York University study, entitled “Living Under Drones”, describes the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s database as “far more reliable than other aggregating sources,” based on a far wider range of sources than other comparable studies. And of course there are no official numbers. The U.S. government doesn’t even try to count the casualties.

Washington doesn’t formally admit that the Central Intelligence Agency is running a remote-control assassination program at all, because it is legally a very doubtful area. At the same time, it strives to reassure the American public that there is almost no “collateral damage”: that practically all the victims are “bad guys.” Including the 175 children who, according to the Bureau’s numbers, have been killed in the strikes.

Let’s be honest here: children always get killed in air strikes. When you explode

20 lbs) of high explosives on a single target (the standard Hellfire load), there can be nothing surgical about it. The really questionable aspects of the CIA’s drone program lie elsewhere.

First, is it legal to make air attacks in a country that you are not at war with? Second, can you distinguish sufficiently between “militants” and civilians living in the same area? And, above all, why are you making double-tap attacks?

The legal question is particularly problematic in Pakistan, where the government has not authorized the United States to carry out attacks. Islamabad tacitly accepts them, but sometimes public opinion forces it to respond vigorously, as when an American missile killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year. That blunder also highlights the difficulty of distinguishing between “militants” and civilians through the lens of a remote-controlled camera.

It’s the double-tap attacks that are truly shameful. Do the controllers really think that the people rushing to rescue the survivors of a first strike are all “militants” too? Or are they just trying to deter people from helping those who were wounded in the first strike? That is certainly the effect of the policy: villagers now often leave the injured survivors of an attack in agony for hours before going to help them, for fear of becoming victims too.

There’s no point in telling the military and their masters that this tactic is counter-productive, generating more new “militants” than it kills. The bureaucratic machine doesn’t respond to such subtle arguments. There’s probably no point in talking about the moral problem of killing innocent people either. But the fact that some 50 countries now have drones should inspire a little reflection about this unwritten change in the rules of engagement.

The latest proud possessor of these weapons is Iran, which has just unveiled a new drone with a range of 2,000 km (1,300 mi), capable of flying over most of the Middle East. If it is really copied from the U.S. drone that Iran captured last year, then it has major air-to-ground capabilities. So what if it starts using those capabilities over, say, Syria, against the rebels that the Syrian government calls “terrorists”?

The U.S. could not really complain (though no doubt it would). What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.

Sounds a lot like the bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan, which, when emergency personnel arrived, was repeated.

 That blunder also highlights the difficulty of distinguishing between “militants” and civilians through the lens of a remote-controlled camera.

Ok, but that's as opposed to what, yesterday's satellite picture? I don't see these as arguments against drones so much as arguments against execution of war. Sorry, but Shock and Awe and 100k dead in a country that didn't even have Al Queda seems to me a much more obvious blunder.

I'll agree that the issue is (and will be for quite some time) not whether drones are used, but how.

While I appreciate the positives of drone use, I disagree with them being used for anything more than observation and SIGINT.

First, air strikes have nowhere near the precision as they are claimed, especially when used in urban areas.  There is no substitute for trained professionals on the ground in the AO, and there probably never will be.

Second, technology and media have sanitized war to varying degrees (for our side).  By making war 'safe' and 'clean', we use it far too readily.  If the true nature of warfare was understood by all, and it's risks were shared more broadly, then it would be used far less often and the world would be better for it.

If that's what mankind's greatest goals are, to improve warfare, then impersonal warfare by drones must be better.

One doesn't want to be the guy who brings a knife to a gunfight. Is being militarily superior the greatest goal in any sense? No. Is it an important goal? Of course it is.

The most expensive and useless luxury in the world is a second rate military.

In every war they kill you in a new way. Drones are the future of warfare, they are very useful which might explain why we've gone from having a few dozen to more than 7000 drones in 10 years. Is it better or worse? It's war, war is always hell regardless of the weapons being used to wage it. Do I like drones? Of course not, I don't like any technology being used to wage war. But as Plato said "Only the dead have seen the end of war."

Several things strike me about this subject but for the moment I would just like to pose a question.

Let us say an organisation gets its own drones and out raged at homes being attacked, civilians killed and then rescue workers trying to aid the victims of terror attacks being directly targeted as well they lunch attacks against the USA. This organisation/group/whatever then embark on a campaign stating that they are targeting members of the USA military and leadership and are NOT targeting civilians because they have no arguement with Americans themselves. However in the course of their strikes against the military and leadership civilians are killed at a ratio of some ten civilians to one military or government person. The attacks happen anywhere over the CONUS, at any time leaving Americans feeling threatened, "terrorised". Families witness loved ones being shredded by missiles, worse they have to leave wounded loved ones in the wreckage of homes screaming their agonised way towards death alone because rescues workers dare not go to help for fear of another missile aimed specifically at them. Imagine being the parent or sibling sorting through what was your home to find all that is left of a person is their head and part of their spinal column as you slip around on what was their blood and bowel contents. Do you think that experience might enrage you enough to want to support the fight against these attackers in some way, perhaps a new recruit, perhaps sending money to buy arms or giving assistance to one of your brave service men fighting this enemy ?

Of course the USA stands a chance of defending its airspace and citizens from these strikes, but the fact is that today these weapons are being used against dirt poor people with next to nothing to their name but those they love. They have no defence, they exist every day in the terror that if a drone sees more than four people talking together someone arrogant piece-o-shit in a rich country far far away may decide that you have just had one conversation too many and end your life, along with that of your children in the process. Then there is knowing that some of the missile warheads contain substances like the WMD depleted uranium, or white phosphorus that will turn the child in your womb into a deformed monster.

Drones and the sheer injustice of their use will fuel hatred of the USA. Every child who has been left orphaned or seen their parents crippled by American judgement from the sky WILL BE added to those wanting to see the end of America. The widespread use of Double Tap drone strikes is a new low from the USA, another sign that their is no moral authority there any more. "Christian country" my pert little ear end !
Judith vd R.

With drones on one side and the Taliban on the other I'm sure glad I don't live there. At least, I suppose, the Taliban have the moral authority, right? That's what the Taliban is all about.


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