Summary of Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict

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Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict book summary

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In this anthology of essays, drone warfare experts examine the most challenging issues in their field, including, notably, the targeted killings of terrorists and suspected terrorists. This range of opinions points out that drone strikes are useful tactically but may be unwise strategically in that they kill individual terrorists but can serve as powerful recruiting tools for terrorist organizations. Sophisticated targeting means operators can confine drone attacks to individual targets, mitigating the need for frontline troops and limiting collateral damage. Diverse authors – as edited by David Cortright, Rachel Fairhurst and Kristen Wall – offer opinions as well as an analysis that will interest national strategists, military theorists, international lawyers, government leaders, ethicists, weapons experts, counterterrorism professionals, military scholars, human rights champions, and anyone intrigued by drones and their future. 

About the Authors

David Cortright directs policy studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, where Rachel Fairhurst and Kristen Wall were research assistants. Anthology contributors are Martin L. Cook, David Cortright, Audrey Kurth, Mary Dudziak, Rachel Fairhurst, Karen J. Greenberg, Christof Heyns, Palais Wilson, Patrick B. Johnston, Pardiss Kebriaei, Kristen Wall, Jennifer M. Welsh, Chris Woods and Rafia Zakaria.


Unmanned Lethal Aircraft

Military drones are sophisticated, unmanned aircraft that can kill. Teams of remote operators and ancillary specialists – mission commanders, sensor operators, video analysts, technicians, launch crews, recovery crews and legal advisers – control and service drones and determine their use.

Today’s drone deployments provoke worldwide security and human rights issues. These problems will worsen as drone use becomes more widespread. Because drone attacks don’t require on-the-ground troops, drones make beyond-the-border conflicts more likely. Drones enable the targeting of specific enemy combatants, groups, bases and locations. In the past, killing targeted individuals – such as political or military leaders – was a wartime exception. Long-distance killings may become the rule.

With no soldiers on the front lines, drones make war more politically acceptable. But once drone wars start, they may never end. Drones destroy specific targets, thus reducing collateral damage, including civilian deaths. Drones make war easy to initiate and conduct. They work against diplomacy and multilateral attempts to resolve disputes peacefully...

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