Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

U.S. Drone Policy

This topic was discussed on July 29, 2013
The U.S. Government’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) for targeted attacks has caused a great deal of discussion in the U.S. and abroad.

  • Is the U.S. use of drones effective? Even if the targeted individual(s) is/are killed:
    • What about collateral damage?
    • Do the impersonal nature of the strikes and their asymmetric risks to U.S. forces serve as fuel to mobilize (and radicalize) foreign antagonists?
  • Is it appropriate for the U.S. to have different criteria for strikes against U.S. citizens as opposed to foreign nationals?
  • What do we understand about the “rules of engagement” for drone strikes, and is there sufficient oversight of, and accountability for, making the necessary judgments about “acceptable collateral damage,” whether host country “permission” should be obtained, etc.
  • Since non-weaponized drones can be used for surveillance, how do we feel about the use of this technology within the U.S. borders?


  • Good reference for recent drone strike policy discussion:
    Foreign Affairs July Aug 2013, available at BHPL
    ‘Why Drones Work’ by Daniel Byman
    ‘Why Drones Fail’ by Audry Kurth Cronin
    Reply ↓

  • I googled the question we had about the circumstances of Al-Awlaki’s son’s death by drone. Here’s the wikipedia link:

    In short, it is correct that the son was killed in a separate drone strike, two weeks after his father’s death. The Obama administration says he was not a target, someone else was.

  • Thanks for both the references. The Foreign Affairs articles look to be a good background for future conversation on drones.

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