And other pros and cons.
Do you think that expanded use of drones is an affective tool in the fight against the terrorists or not and why?
Edwin Bakker, Professor of Terrorism Studies, Institute of Public Administration, Leiden University
The use of drones constitutes a dilemma for policy makers in the counter terrorism field. The use of this type of weapon has many advantages: first of all no casualties on the side of the user, and it has proven to be able to kill leading figures of the opponent side. On top of that, it immobilizes to some extent the freedom to operate of the opponents as they fear the weapon that can strike quite unexpectedly. On top of that, it is a relatively inexpensive weapon: no training of pilots, relatively little maintenance.
There are negative aspects as well: it has killed quite a number of innocent civilians. And it is regarded a weapon of cowards who use high tech instead of participating in a ‘honoust’ fight. This might sound silly, but in the context of Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen, this cultural element plays a role. These negative aspects have made it easier for the opposing forces to mobilize people and to recruit more people that might have been killed. Nonetheless, the drones have managed to take out key leaders, have weakened terrorist leadership and succesfully hampers their operational room to manouevre. All in all a successful weapon if one looks at the ‘technical side’, but a difficult type of weapon if one looks at the public relations/propaganda side. given the fact that — in essence – terrorism is not about killing but about influencing public opinion making and political decision making it seems wise to only use drones when there is no other way to ‘neutralize’ key terrorist leaders.
Harsh V. Pant, Reader in International Relations, Department of Defence Studies, King’s College London
I think drone use is proving to be an invaluable tool in the fight against terrorists. The greatest problem that is often faced is the ability to terrorists to move from one place to another, making it difficult to completely clear an area off. The minute you clear it and shift attention elsewhere, the terrorists then make a come back. With drones, they know that they will tracked down and so always have to be on the move, making it difficult to plan and execute major attacks. This is especially the case where borders are porous such as the Af-Pak borderlands. The terrorists initially were moving with impunity from Afghanistan to Pakistan knowing well that they would be safe. Now their calculus has changed with the onslaught on drones in Pakistan. Pakistani security establishment may have qualms about the breach of sovereignty but much before drones breached their sovereignty, it had already been compromised by the presence of terrorists.
Filed under: Intelligence, Military, Security, Terrorism, United States Tagged: | al-Qaeda, Drones, Edwin Bakker, Harsh V. Pant, Intelligence, Military, Security, Security policy, Terrorism, United States, War on Terror