Like it or not, America needs drones

Posted By Horizon Staff February 14th, 2013 in Opinions & Editorials : 1 COMMENTS

Ashley Estebo| Staff Writer

If we are talking about preserving the national security of the United States, then anything goes to protect the homeland from any threats. Right? What about the use of drones as a counterterrorism tactic? To what extent will the United States continue violating the rights of other sovereign states?

In thinking about the security of both the U.S. and any states that are potentially vulnerable to terrorist attacks, Americans are inclined to agree that the United States should be allowed to patrol the skies of the terrorist-congested states via drones.

If a state houses terrorists, then that state should be closely monitored for terrorist activity. Is that not the point of the War on Terrorism – to search out terrorists and and stop them? Drones have become a hot topic of policy in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, especially now as drone attacks are more frequent. Under President Bush there was a drone strike about once every forty days, but President Obama has increased that to one drone strike every four days.

Many officials in our government argue that drones are useful instruments of reconnaissance and take the place of ground soldiers, thus decreasing the number of soldiers that are put in harm’s way when they enter terrorist hot zones.

Others argue that the use of drones is an infringement on the sovereignty of the targeted states, specifically because these states are being forced to allow drones to monitor and frequently attack terrorists or terrorist-related activities within their state. They also believe that despite their precision, drones can still kill innocent people.

There are five major states in which U.S. drones conduct surveillance: Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Drones are new tools in the world of espionage and war. Much debate has already gone into deciding whether or not drones are useful. The major problem with drones, for the people in these states, is their attacks. Though drones have attacked terrorist units, they have also killed and wounded many civilians. The people are aware of the purpose of the drones, but they are still outraged because they see this technology as a weapon, not a protective measure. These people have had to endure strikes in the market places, in their towns and villages, on the road, and even as they work in the fields. Homes, cars, livestock, and property have been destroyed – all for the sake of protecting the people from the terrorists within their states. It may seem counterintuitive that we are forcing these people to endure strikes in order to preserve their security, but can it be said that, to some extent, the ends justify the means?

Drones only strike areas suspected of having terrorist activities. In many cases, terrorists set up their head quarters near villages, so if a drone strikes a terrorist compound near a village filled with people, then it is very likely that there will be collateral damage. Though the people in these villages may be aware of the terrorist presence, they do not dare to cross the terrorists or deny them of anything they demand. Terrorists play a double role in the lives of these people; they are both protectors and bullies. They threaten to kill the families of those who refuse to cooperate with them and promise to protect those who do cooperate with them. Terrorists use force to gain allegiance and promises of protection to ensure loyalty. For this reason, it was seemingly impossible for U.S. troops to locate terrorists when they were on the ground. It was especially difficult to get any of the locals in small villages to disclose any information as the troops got closer to terrorist headquarters. Since ground work was not doing the job quickly enough, the United States resorted to utilizing drones.

What about the violation of sovereign statehood? Drones violate policies concerning airspace. What makes it okay for the United States to invade airspace to monitor terrorists? Would the United States allow this type of behavior to be practiced by other states over U.S. airspace? Of course not! But then again, we do not house actual terrorist groups. And if any have existed or do exist, the United States has taken and is taking great measures to eradicate them. Why can’t these terrorist-congested states take care of themselves, then? Some suggest that it is not even the United States’ place to take responsibility for seeking out terrorists.

Then why does the United States still do it? It could be that the United States is still trying to redeem itself and its cause after declaring war on Iraq in 2003. Or it could be that the United States is taking the lead in the global war against terrorism? Nevertheless, the question still remains: is it right for the United States to involve itself in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state or take measures to protect all who are threatened by terrorists? What if the United States were in the position of Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, or Afghanistan, and our government was weak and inefficient; would we, as U.S. citizens, desire for some other stronger state to come in and take a stance against terrorists for our sake since our government was not doing anything about it? Essentially, that is what the U.S. is doing. It is trying to put an end to a group that terrorizes all states and threatens the governmental authority of the states they occupy.

Like in all wars, there will be damage. There will be deaths. There will be unrest. But, in this case, these consequences should not put an end to the use of drones. Drones make it easier to track suspicious terrori       st activity, more so than field operations. Drones also are a two-in-one package: they act as soldiers, in that they have eyes on the field, and they also act as weapons. If the governments of Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan actually had a handle on their people and the terrorists who reside within their borders, they would not need any assistance politically, financially, or militarily from the U.S. True, drones can cause unwarranted deaths of civilians, but this should not be the sole cause of the complete eradication of drones. Instead, steps should be taken to insure the most safety for civilians. These steps should include: being more precise in targeting the exact location of the terrorists (so as to minimize damage to the civilian population), creating a pact with the states the drones are being used in (so as to avoid further political and social unrest), and securing the networks that control the drones’ weaponry capability (so as to avoid any hacking).

Though it is not the United States’ job to keep watch of terrorist organizations for the sake of protecting the welfare of all states, the U.S. does it because if they did not, no one else would step up to the plate. The use of drones has a much greater purpose than to just seek out terrorists. These drones are meant to bring peace and restoration back to all states, one target at a time.

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