The United States government insists the use of drones is an important military weapon and is a perfectly legal method of conducting war. President Obama is certain their use has resulted in serious damage to leadership of terrorist groups. A central issue is the legality of the United States bombing and killing people who happen to be in another nation. Ben Emerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter terrorism has just concluded a visit to Pakistan whose government made clear they have not given permission to the US to bomb in their country. As Emerson notes, he was informed, “it does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and considers this a violation of their sovereignty.”
An important question, aside from legality, is whether using drones to kill leaders actually makes any sense. The US has been using drones for years and al-Qaeda continues growing in size and violence. There is no evidence in human history that killing leaders results in a decline in effectiveness. The next level simply moves up and, in many cases, winds up being more effective.
Evidence: In 1938, Russian dictator, Joseph Stalin, murdered about 80% of his nation’s generals and colonels. The Russian army defeated Germany in WWII. I challenge any drone supporter to present evidence that killing leadership leads to victory.