For the last few weeks the chattering class has been yacking about the ethics of using drones in warfare. This came to a peek last Thursday when with the Senate confirmation hearing of John Brennan for CIA head, and the Justice Department’s finding that targeting American terrorists on foreign soil is legal and constitutional.
The question is: why the big concern now? The first U.S. drone strike occurred in 2001. There was nary a peep back then. And remember the cheers for the use “smart” bombs during Desert Storm that accurately targeted their mission?
Of course we have the slippery-slopers that fear the government may turn drones on citizens in the U.S. And then there’s the hair-on-fire set that worry that hostile governments will launch drone strikes on the U.S. To the former I’d remind them that local, state and federal law enforcement does a pretty good job against evildoers without the use of drones. To the latter I’d suggest that if NORAD can track Santa, tracking drones that cross our borders would be easy.
Drones make so much more sense than manned aircraft for surveillance and attack missions. They are cheaper, they can stay up longer and the pilot is not at risk of being shot down. Do unmanned aircraft make the enemy more hostile to us? Well, first, as they are the enemy they are already hostile to us. And they get just as pissed when an manned bomber drops a load on them. They are also not too keen on covert operations that take out their fighters. Arguably drones inflict the least co-lateral damage of any operations.
So for all those that want to make this a controversy I say: get use to it. The military is busy developing many unmanned warfighting technologies that will keep the bad guys on the run while protecting our warfighters.