Collateral Damage: Drone Strikes in International Law and Warfare Ethics

Introduction

In the desert of Nevada, pilots are sitting in the comfort of an air-conditioned control room as they operate drone strikes thousands of miles away from their targets. By the end of their operation, the airmen receive a closed envelope with the number of insurgents they have killed.

According to Denise Chow, both the CIA and the Air Force conduct such attacks with personnel spending “ten to twelve hours a day… stationed in front of monitors”. Such are the conditions of the modern counterinsurgency operations, remote and threatening only to the enemy combatants.

It is for this reason among many that precision attacks with drones are the preferred method of Washington’s counterinsurgency operations. Drones are a much-praised development among military and government circles for their no-strings-attached operational practicality and low costs.

Drone Warfare’s Advantages

Drone proponents such as Daniel Byman from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service vouch for the benefits of

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