Drones - Assignment Example

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The United States has been using remotely targeted drones to attacks terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere, usually without notice to or permission from the targeted country.  Unfortunately, although these strikes have been effective in killing many top terrorist…
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Does Using Drones to Attack Terrorists Globally Violate international Law? Does Using Drones to Attack Terrorists Globally Violate international Law?
The United States has been using remotely targeted drones to attacks terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere, usually without notice to or permission from the targeted country.  Unfortunately, although these strikes have been effective in killing many top terrorist leaders, they have also killed many innocent civilians as collateral damage.  The issue is whether these attacks by the United States violate international law and, if so, should they continue?
Answer (1)
Tough question, but why we can debate the ethics of drone strikes, I think they are legal and will go down in history, along with the Spencer repeating rifle and jet power, as transformational and/or disruptive technologies for which there were no established laws that regulated their initial use.  And, while it’s unfortunate that innocents are killed in any conflict, the same risks exist with conventional weapons; and under warfare that is more conventional. 
Transnational terrorism offers a new challenge that must be met with new tools: drones are that tool and a reasonable proportional response to what are often small groups of bad actors.  The idea of expecting local law enforcement, often in virtually lawless countries, to capture terrorist is also a non-starter.  The Obama administration has published common sense guidelines that govern the use of force in other countries and I find them practical. 
The United States has the right to target terrorists using drone attacks, even if incidental loss of life will occur among the non targetable civilians; as long as the principles of proportionality, distinction and reasonable necessity are adhered to. When using the principles of proportionality and reasonable necessity, the government should take into consideration all the appropriate features of the context. These considerations entails; identification of the terrorist targets, understanding the significance of the target, analyzing the appropriateness of alternative target methods for combating terrorism, studying the proximity to non targetable civilians, and identifying if the civilians are being used as human shield by the terrorists either voluntarily or through coercion.
Drone killings are lawful if they adhere to the laws of war and laws of self defense. This is because targeting the terrorists due to self defense is legal. Terrorist participate in ongoing armed attacks, therefore, they should be targeted by drone killings in whichever part of the world they operate in. Terrorists also participate in direct hostilities against the United States. Therefore, they should obviously be targeted by drone attacks during an ongoing armed conflict. The human rights freedom against the arbitrary loss of life is applicable to individuals who are within the jurisdiction of United States (Bashir et al, 2012).
Answer (2)
Upon my initial review of the issue I was fully on board (or so I thought) with Prof. O’Connell.  Her argument was strong; I believed that the U.S. was in violation of international laws.  The lack of justification regarding the location in which we’ve used them, the time (non war) and who was utilizing them (nonmilitary personnel).   Although, my very first thought prior to reading the issue was how can we be in violation when this is being used against groups of terrorists?  How can they be protected as a normal citizen while in the midst of committing crimes, some on an international scale? However, upon reviewing O’Connell’s case as to why we, the U.S., are in violation of international law she made a few good points.  One where she referenced a laser guided hellfire missile launch on a vehicle in Yemen in 11/02’ (Taking Sides, pg. 204) by CIA operatives and civilian contractors.  I thought to myself now we’re the terrorists.  Or are we merely utilizing the same tactics that these NGOs use to gain better results?  Again, O’Connell made a compelling argument. 
Then I read Mr. Lewis’ points as to why it shouldn’t be seen as violating any laws.  His points in regards to the “terrorists” are as follows: they’ve made “affirmative steps…to otherwise lose their civilian immunity (Taking Sides, pg. 209).” “A combatant may be lawfully targeted whether or not they pose a current threat to their opponents, whether or not they are armed, or even awake (per IHL, Taking Sides, pg. 209).   Finally he points out that such groups forfeit rights given to combatants due to methods of engagement (i.e., warfare)  and intentions to target civilians as well and the mention of their loss of immunity when they have intentions on being hostile, not verbatim but you get the point (pg. 210 of Taking Sides).  This further supported my initial belief.  The only issue I personally take with the matter is whether intel and the strikes are precise enough to ensure that less (or in a perfect world, none) civilian lives are lost during such missions.  I’m not your typical woman, while I am somewhat of an empath and can be a nurturer, I believe in an eye for an eye.  I am peaceful until provoked, lets just say that.  I also believe in doing things simply and realize that at times there will be innocent lives lost during certain engagements.  So this is where I become the villain, I am ok with the loss of one to save ten or the loss of ten to save a thousand, I think you get the picture. Yes, I am conflicted to a minute degree (which means Im still human and not an absolute monster) but I understand the law of self-preservation. 
Although, we realize that the backlash against the US by doing so (utilizing drones) off the battlefield can be quite detrimental as far as image and may only assist in terrorist cells being able to recruit more individuals that have a strong disdain for our country. 
The United States military are allowed to utilize lethal force, through the drones, on the terrorists during armed conflict if the drone attacks adhere to the military requirements, and if this military force will not negatively impact the lives of civilians or their properties. The country can start drone attacks on the terrorists’ targets in acts of self defense, if the United States if the victim of the terrorist attacks. This is as long as the attacks are conducted on terrorists’ targets.
Lawyers for the Bush administration and the Obama administration, have prepared reports that illustrate the CIA can lawfully conduct drone attacks through targeted killings or the war on terror. This is without breaking the ban by President Reagan on assassinations. For example, the November 2002 drone killings on an American citizen aged 23 years old in Yemen, as part of the global war on terror (DeYoung, 2011).
Answer (3)
It appears that both Mary Ellen O’Connell and Michael W. Lewis agree that the use of UAVs is legal as a battlefield weapon.  Lewis provides a strong argument for the legality of unmanned attacks against civilians that have lost their immunity.  State sovereignty must be respected through a notification and approval process.  In the case of civilians, there appears to be legal justification for using drone attacks against individuals that have taken a direct part in hostilities against the United States.   This apparently supersedes the authority of local law enforcement.  I understand reasons that United States refrains from seeking permission from Pakistan, Yemen or any other country when conducting drone attacks, but there appears to be legal issues with this practice.      
The legality of the CIA’s involvement in conducting drone attacks seems to also be a concern voiced by both O’Connell and Lewis.  This is an area that needs to be addressed if attacks are to be continued under the CIA’s direction.
The UN special rapporteurs have condemned the use of drone attacks by the United States government. They consider such attacks as arbitrary deprivation of right of life. Also human rights advocates have illustrated dissatisfaction in the use of the drone attacks.
The issue of collateral damage is a concern of mine.  This is a concern with any aerial attack, but protocol can be followed to help mitigate the damage and to help ensure the attack is in the strategic interest of the United States.    
The drone attacks question should best be answered through the analysis of the international law. If the United States kills people in other sovereign countries, then the world should look into the international law for justification. During war, the enemy fighters should be killed according to reasonable necessity. However, outside war authorities should be restricted in applying lethal force.
The use of UAVs is cost effective and works well to target terrorist.  I suspect the United States will want to increase the use of drone attacks against terrorists in the future.  At this time, I’m supportive of this practice considering we respect state sovereignty, adapt CIA involvement and ensure implementation of proper protocol, as used for any other aerial strike.     
Bashir, S. et al. (2012). Under the Drones: Modern Lives in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Borderlands. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
DeYoung, Karen (19 December 2011). "Secrecy defines Obamas drone war". Washington Post. Read More
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