Justifying drones

Drones are a better alternative than placing soldiers in danger.

by Ronald Dixon

Sen. Rand Paul made headlines last week when he led a traditional talking filibuster in order to obstruct the nomination of John Brennan as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The primary point that Paul and his colleagues were making was refuting Attorney General Eric Holder’s justification for a hypothetical drone attack against American citizens on domestic soil. The U.S. is not planning to use drones domestically, but it could under some circumstances.

For example, Holder stated that they could be used to stop imminent terrorist attacks, such as one akin to 9/11.

How about internationally? Drones are often used by the military against dangerous terrorists, so this must be addressed.

We have heard politicians on both the left and the right denounce President Barack Obama’s drone program as unconstitutional and having great potential to be dangerous to civilians; however, I challenge these points.

Drones are acceptable to stop a suspected or known terrorist that has the ability to cause imminent damage to the U.S. Through this method, money would be saved because we do not need organic soldiers in action. Moreover, casualties would be reduced because drones are far more targeted than traditional bombing methods. Finally, it protects American soldiers from getting killed. Although I do not agree with every use of drones by the government, such as the accidental targeted killing of terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki’s son, one cannot simply deny the benefits of using drones.

A critique of drones, however, is that it desensitizes soldiers, making it too easy to kill. But no evidence exists that shows this effect, and opponents have failed to codify the impacts from hypothetical desensitization.

How about the legality of such a program? This is very difficult to deduce. The Constitution gives Congress the power to raise an army and to declare war but obviously lacks the mention of drones. Moreover, is the use of drones a declaration of war, and if so, against whom? More legal clarity is needed by the Legislature or the judiciary.

The evidence is clear: Drones save money and lives, and, thus, should be preferred.


Ronald Dixon

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