In April 2015, two Americans were killed by
a US drone strike in Pakistan. And although both may have been affiliated with the terrorist
group Al Qaeda, their deaths highlight ongoing legal questions regarding the use of drones
as weapons. So, what is the controversy surrounding drones? Well, first of all, drones are unmanned flying
machines usually controlled by remote pilots. They can be as small as a hummingbird, or
as large as Boeing 757 plane. During the 21st century, the United States has been weaponizing
these machines and increasingly using them in military airstrikes. Drones have prompted criticism from the United
Nations, and others, over the ethical implications of their use. Some argue that drone pilots
can end up with a “Playstation mentality”, and become disassociated from the casualties.
Others worry that drones make it too easy to enter into warfare by eliminating the need
for troops on the ground. There is also the fear that as fully autonomous, or “smart
drones” are developed, they will run the risk of attacking both civilians and soldiers
indiscriminately. Also, government oversight of drone warfare
is minimal. Official U.S. records of the casualties caused by drones remain secret from the public,
on the grounds of National Security. However, independent research groups have suggested
that, since 2004, around 4 thousand people have been killed by drones in countries like
Pakistan and Yemen. Reportedly, hundreds of drone attack casualties have been civilians. So what’s the upside to drone warfare? Well,
the main benefit is that fewer American lives are put at risk. Some reports also suggest
that drones are more precise than conventional weapons, and kill fewer innocent bystanders.
And they’re cheaper to produce as well. A recent Associated Press poll found that
a majority of Americans support the use of drones to target suspected terrorists. And,
in the same poll, almost three quarters of respondents also deemed drone strikes acceptable
when they killed Americans who had joined terrorist organizations. President Obama has
defended drone strikes, calling them “effective” and vital for national security. However, in the past few years, the United
Nations has demanded increased transparency from the US when it comes to drone warfare,
and noted that the rights to life, security and personal dignity outweigh the advantages
gained from outsourcing army work to machines. So far, the United States has mostly ignored
critics, although in 2013, President Obama did pledged to increase oversight of military
drones, and use stricter targeting rules. If you’re interested to dive deeper into
the world of Drones, make sure you check these two videos out. The top one from Seeker investigates
how drones are being used for good, and the bottom is a look at recent developments in
drone technology from DNews. There are links in the description below to both those videos.
Thanks for watching!