Essay Example about The Ethics of Drone Warfare

Published: 2022-03-09
Essay Example about The Ethics of Drone Warfare
Type of paper:  Argumentative essay
Categories:  Army Ethics
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1744 words
15 min read

Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that are remotely controlled. Drones have been in use by the modern militaries mainly the United States in its conventional wars since the beginning of the 21st century. The first military drones were used by the Bush administration where 51 attacks were recorded. However, it was in the Obama's administration that significant concerns were raised regarding the use of drones at war. The primary concern is the loss of civilian lives in areas that have high civilian populations. The death of innocent people in any conflict is a violation of the international laws of military engagement. Despite the justifications that have been given to account for their deaths, no civilian life should be lost when fighting an enemy.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

However, throughout the human history, it has been determined that no battle has ever been fought without inflicting casualty on the civilians. In fact, the worst loss of life and violence towards the non-combatants has been as a result of direct military conflicts. Having understood this fact, it becomes paramount for any head of state to make a choice which will limit the civilian casualties as much as possible in any conflict. The loss of soldiers and economic considerations should also be determining factors when planning for a war. Having considered the highlighted elements, one can realize that using drones in the modern warfare is not only justifiable but necessary to avoid massive loss of human life, deter enemies, and it's cheaper compared to other fighting alternatives available.

When fighting every war, there are various rules which must be observed to prevent loss of life, limit the use of excessive force towards an aggressor and avert human sufferings. These laws apply to all methods of fighting employed by an army, including the use of drones to conduct targeted attacks. The first rule of a just war dictate that war should be fought as a last resort, this means that war should only be considered when all the other alternatives have failed. The second rule stipulates that a proper authority should authorize the use of force towards the enemy. There must be a reasonable chance of success before a nation can wage war against a foe. Going to war when the odds are against an army is a recipe for disaster, and such a move would only bring chaos and sufferings. The fourth rule states that war should be fought for a justified course. A just course means that a country has been provoked and they are acting either in self-defense or to neutralize the perceived threat before innocent people get harmed. All these rules should strictly be adhered to regardless of the advancement in technology. Drones are faster and can operate longer than the traditional military aircraft. However, this advantage should not be used to help countries wage war against each other; it should only be used out of necessity.

Drone strikes can be used in areas whereby deploying soldiers on the ground would be too risky. An example of such a case is in areas where the troops would be exposed to a possibility of hostile reception by the locals who would view their presence as a violation of their sovereignty thus prompting self-defense. Drones use can also be justifiable when an enemy is in possession of dangerous weapons that could risk the lives of the soldiers and the neighboring population. An example of such an instance is a situation where the enemy is in possession of a biological or a nuclear bomb and intends to detonate it at any sign of aggression. Using soldiers to capture such people cannot be possible for it could put the lives of soldiers and many innocent lives at risk. Instead, using a drone which is quiet, quick and efficient might be the better option in such instances.

Using drones in modern warfare puts an army at an advantage and increases its chances of succeeding against its foes. When an army archives early successes in a conflict, it limits the loss of life, prevents human suffering, and saves the country significant amount of money. Going to war when a nation has not done proper calculations to determine the financial cost needed to fight that war can be disastrous. Drones are a cheaper way of combat as compared to the use of fighter jets or deployment of foot soldiers. The amount of money saved after the enemy has been defeated can be used to build critical infrastructures and provide aid to the people whose lives have been displaced by the fighting. The success of drones on the battlefield has been remarkable, as this was evident through the intelligent gathered at Bin Laden's compound when he was killed. The information retrieved indicated that the terrorist network was losing reserves and their fighting force due to the drone's strikes. The intelligence further suggested that the terrorists were getting frustrated by the use of this new technology. Bin Laden had personally noted down that, "It is getting impossible to fight drones with explosives." The statement from the terrorist proves the superiority of these unmanned vehicles against other weapons available.

At the heart of the "Ethics of Drone use" debate is the loss of civilian life. During President Obama's speech at the National defense university, he admitted that while drones have been mostly successful at eliminating targeted combatants, civilians have been killed in some instances. So far, it is hard to account for the exact number of the civilians who have been killed by the drone attacks, but it has been estimated that about 20% of the fatalities inflicted by drones have been on civilians. This number of civilian deaths has drawn fierce criticism for the international laws of war stipulates that no human casualties should be allowed in any war. However, the unfortunate reality is that in every battle, civilians pay the ultimate price by losing their lives. It is thus reasonable to look at a method that would minimize the number of civilian deaths and if humanly possible prevent any civilian casualties. In wars which have involved deployment of foot soldiers, there has been recorded the worst cases of non-combatants loss of life, a typical example of such an incidence is in the Second World War whereby more civilians than soldiers died. However, the use of drone technology has lowered that risk of such deaths very significantly. While no moral or legal justifications can be used to explain to the families of the innocent lives taken by drone's strikes, reducing the number of such deaths is the moral obligation of any army fighting an enemy. In his speech on the justifications of using of drones, President Obama noted that "Every president must weigh these heartbreaking tragedies of civilian deaths against the alternatives of sitting down and doing nothing." He further pointed out that "to do nothing in the face of terrorists is to invite more civilian casualties." By this statement, Obama argues that evil must be fought at all cost. Failing to fight the enemy will only cause more violence and death of the non-combatants.

The other concern that has been raised to object the use of drones in the modern warfare is the easiness and the convenience that is brought about by using them. A drone is remotely operated and can deliver devastating damage just by a switch of a button. The easiness of managing drones can quickly lead to a misuse of this technology and thus opting to go to war instead of pursuing it as the last option. Under the wrong hands, a head of state can choose to use drones as a coercive force against other nations that do not possess the technology or the capabilities to operate them. In this context, coercive force can be defined as when a powerful country uses its power to intimidate or force the other weaker nations to bend to their will. However, in the modern world where international laws govern all nations, it is not possible to order strikes before the United Nations approve the use of force towards an aggressor.

In the United States, Congress is responsible for approving any military action towards an enemy. Such checks and balances deprive the president the power to use the military as a tool of intimidation, for he cannot go to war without the approval of Congress. And after the approval of war by Congress, the president is guided by the international laws on how to fight any given conflict. However, this being a new technology, there are no clear laws in existence regarding how drones should be used. To ensure that these unmanned vehicles are not misused, special task forces should be established to oversee that they are used for a proper course. All the cases of civilian deaths should be recorded and investigated, and in instances where the rules have been violated, prosecution of the accused persons should be done to ensure accountability. On the other hand, the need to capture an enemy alive should always be given a top priority, for this will provide a chance for prosecution and for justice to prevail. The ability to remotely operate a drone should not be used to violate other countries airspace by invading into their territories without proper permission. Proper notification and approvals should be obtained to avoid cases of diplomatic confrontations which can escalate into a full-scale war of self-defense.

In conclusion, drones are an evolutional invention that is here to stay. Just like any significant discovery, the challenges that surround the use of drones has been enormous. However, this new invention ought to be embraced for it has shown considerable success compared to other fighting methods. Instead of condemning the use of drones, people should work as a team to ensure that the challenges brought about by their use are addressed, and the civilian casualties are avoided. A special courts which can evaluate and authorize the use of drones in any mission that the government wishes to undertake should be put in place. Drone should not be used to replace diplomacy or any other avenue that would avert a crisis. However, when the need arises for self-defense or protecting other people from an aggressor, the president should be allowed to use drone attacks for they have proved to be reliable, efficient, and can minimize loss of life. However, before any attack is carried out, there must be near-certainty probability that no civilians will be killed or injured.

Cite this page

Essay Example about The Ethics of Drone Warfare. (2022, Mar 09). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism