Is War Too Easy?

Matthew Evangelista


Although estimates vary, since November 2001 the United States has used armed drones—known more formally as unmanned or remotely piloted aerial vehicles—to kill several thousand people, among whom hundreds were noncombatants and perhaps unintentionally or mistakenly targeted. By contrast, during that same period, U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq —and the civil conflicts that exploded in their wake—have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands, large numbers of them civilians innocent by any standard. Yet the attacks by drone, especially when they kill innocents, arguably attract more media attention than the more mundane violence produced by less exotic weapons—if and when the drone strikes become known. The program’s very secrecy has contributed to the controversy. Without more transparency, it is hard to judge the ethical, legal, or strategic rationales for drone use. Without oversight, many critics believe, it has simply become too easy for the United States to launch drone strikes, too easy for the country to become involved in wars.

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Perspectives on Politics, Volume 14, Issue 01, March 2016, pp 132 – 137
Published online by Cambridge University Press 21 Mar 2016