Essay On Political, Legal And Economic Questions And Consideration Of Drones In The United States
In as much as the use of drones as a strategy in targeted killing and surveillance began as early as 1930’s, the heightened use of drones has increased significantly in the recent times, specifically among developed nations like the United States. A high rate of the use of drones has been witnessed in the United States since the 9/11 terrorist attack (Masters, 2013). It is a measure that has been justified and implemented by the White House as a means to curb terrorist attack in terrorist host spot. The Pentagon, through CIA have increased the use of drones in countries considered to be the major host of organized criminals and terrorist groups such as Iraq and Afghanistan (Evangelista, 2011). The local use of drones has also increase due to the fact that it is supported by the current Obama administration and other private stakeholders. This strategy has also been supported by a significant number of America’s population, with another significant portion of the US population rejecting it (Chevy, 2014). Many questions and controversial debates have been raised concerning the legal, ethical, economic as well as political justification in the use of drones. However, the current political regime has justified this move claiming that it is a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy (Chevy, 2014). This research will highlight and explore various political, economic and legal considerations and questions that emerge in regard to the use of drones.
Political Consideration in the use of Drones in the United States
One of the political consideration or justification that has been awarded a high sense of consideration leading to the use of drones by the United States is that being a super-power, it remains a target to many terrorist groups. In this regard, the US government has justified the use of drones asserting that the country has a right to self defense and to protect its citizens. Therefore, the application of drones has played a major role to undertake security surveillance activities along the US borders.
Additionally, the use of drones by the United States to undertake target killings of organized criminals and terrorist groups has been propagated by political hostility experienced in certain countries. That is, the high level of terrorist gangs in certain countries has created a need to use a safer approach, drones as a means to cub terrorist activities. In a speech provided by the current President of the of the United States, it is indicated that the use of drones has led to killings of approximately 3,500 terrorists in countries like Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan.
Consequently, the use of drones has been a subject of US Congressional review. In 2013, the US government released a policy guideline that would be reviewed by the Congress to ascertain that the use of drones in other countries is justified. The policy guideline consists of five major components that have to be taken into consideration before a drone is released. The first component of this guideline requires that there must be a near certainty that a targeted terrorist group exists at a specific location. Its second component stipulates that there is certainty that civilians and non-combatants will not be affected. In the third component, the guideline stipulates that an assessment has to be undertaken to determine that capture is not possible during the period of operation. In regard to the fourth and fifth component of this guideline, the policy states that local governments cannot address the threats and there are no other alternatives to handle the threat respectively.
Legal Considerations in the Use of Drones
There are various legal considerations and questions that have emerged in regard to the use of drones in the United States. One of these legal considerations is that the use of Drones is supported by Article II of the US Constitution, the Presidential Powers. This article gives the US the authority to use force against threats without having to subject her action on congressional approval (Sanger, 2013). In the year 2001, the US government introduced a policy known as Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). This policy authorized armed conflict with terrorist groups that threatened the security of the United States. Additionally, it gives the President of the United States, the power to use all ‘necessary’ force against any threat to the safety of the United States citizens.
In relation to local use of Drones, the Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 has directed the Federal Aviation Administration that it should integrate into their airspace by end of 2015 for purposes of surveillance to enhance airport security (McNeal, 2014).
On the other hand, certain aspects of International law that allow the use of drones by the United States have also been taken into consideration. One of these laws is stipulated in Article 51 of the UN Charter; it provides nations with an inherent right to defend themselves when they are attacked. This article is applicable in the case that a targeted state is unable or unwilling to control terrorist threat itself. Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan are some of the nations that have agreed to the use of drones in their countries by the United States owing to the fact that they are not able to control terrorist activities. Under International Law, the United States has the authority to “anticipatory self-defense”: This means that it can use force against imminent or real threats that jeopardize the safety of its citizens especially when that force is necessary and there is no option for deliberation.
Economic Considerations in the Use of Drones by the US
In relation to economic considerations made when using drones by the United States, issues have been raised concerning the affordability of this technology. However, many economists and government officials have claimed that the use of drones is relatively cheaper compared to joint military operations. In 2012, approximately $5 billion was allocated to the US Drone program in the Department of Defense. The US Department of Defense asserted that this constituted only 1% of the entire military budgets, thus making it an affordable technology. Comparing this military expenditure to the expenditure spent in the same year in a Joint Fighter Program, which cost the country approximately $10 billion dollars, it is apparent that the use of drones is relatively cheaper (US Department of Defense, 2013). This has led to a scenario where a majority of the American population shows their support towards the use of drones.
In a report published by the US Department of Defense, it was indicated that the use of manned military air strike cost approximately $160,000 to operate per hour. This is approximately 42 times more that the amount that would be used to operate a drone. In this regard, the department showed its support for the use of drones to counter terrorism attacks when needed. However, the with the current rate of technological advancement, the cost associated with the use of drones is expected to increase significantly: In 2013, a budget amounting to $26 billion was presented to President Obama to facilitate the development of UAV’s, the modern version of drones. This could have a negative impact on the economy (Chevy, 2014).
Chevy, M. (2014). On Topic: The economics of drones - TheGazette. Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://thegazette.com/2013/06/30/on-topic-the-economics-of-drones/
Evangelista, M. (2011). The American way of bombing: Changing ethical and legal norms, from flying fortresses to drones.
Masters, J. (2013). Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://www.cfr.org/counterterrorism/targeted-killings/p9627
McNeal, G. (2014). On Topic: The economics of drones - TheGazette. Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://thegazette.com/2013/06/30/on-topic-the-economics-of-drones/
Sanger, D. (2013). Confront and conceal: Obama's secret wars and surprising use of American power.
US Department of Defense. (2013). Presidential powers and international crises ; Presidential powers and foreign affairs. New Orleans: DoD.
United States Senate. (2013). Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/CHRG-113shrg81775.pdf
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