Drones save lives. They prevent terrorist plots in their earliest terminate-able phase and they reduce the risks of collateral damage in the most efficient way known to date. Yet still there are concerns, and what is noticeable is that they now come from across the political spectrum.
So we should not just be aware, but profoundly grateful, that the luxury of our age is to be forced to debate not mass-casualty warfare, but rather the most casualty-minimizing technology in history.
Political campaigners and certain human-rights groups, that strange class of international ambulance-chaser, are now focused on drones.
Amid this flurry of concern, almost all the crucial considerations relating to drone warfare are either being ignored or otherwise missing in action.
Some claim, for instance, that the president has no mandate to do this or that it is actively illegal under international law. Not so. The Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by the U.S. Congress after 9/11 permits the president to use to use "all necessary and appropriate force" to keep the American people safe.
It is not Great Satan's fault, but rather her advantage, that she does not remain hobbled by international niceties of war that have proven great for surrender but have yet to produce victory. When Anwar al-Awlaki—the late citizen and prominent kill-list target—was sitting in Yemen sending people out to attack American targets, he was more suitably treated as an enemy combatant than a ne'er-do-well needing to be read his Miranda rights.
Critics also claim that drone strikes lead to unacceptable civilian casualties. This is worth dwelling on. Numbers are vague because government agencies release little information and few groups have addressed this issue. But even the highest current estimates—from the BIJ for instance—say that fewer than 3,000 people have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan's border areas, where terrorist and drone activity have been most active. Such large numbers of al Qaeda and other terror leaders have been killed in such strikes, that the management of these groups now consists of a slew of unappealing job vacancies.
This method of counter-terrorism is not risk-free. As with every instrument of war, innocent civilians have become a tragic part of the drones' fatal equation. But from the most accurate estimates by scholars at the Brookings Institution, it appears that no more than one-in-seven to one-in-10 people who have been killed in drone strikes to date have been civilians.
This is terrible of course. Any innocent death is an irreversible tragedy. But it is also the lowest civilian casualty-rate currently imaginable. If critics from the left doubt this perhaps they could come up with other options?
We've landed on the most efficient means known to kill Western enemies while harming as few potential friends as possible.
Pic - "Untransparent!"