Executive war powers up under Obama



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Byman ’13 Daniel L. Byman, Professor in the Security Studies Program of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Research Director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, and Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy @ Brookings, former Director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies and the Security Studies Program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, “Why Drones Work,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2013, http://www.brookings.edu/research/articles/2013/06/17-drones-obama-weapon-choice-us-counterterrorism-byman

The fact remains that by using drones so much, Washington risks setting a troublesome precedent with regard to extrajudicial and extraterritorial killings. Zeke Johnson of Amnesty International contends that “when the U.S. government violates international law, that sets a precedent and provides an excuse for the rest of the world to do the same.” And it is alarming to think what leaders such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has used deadly force against peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators he has deemed terrorists, would do with drones of their own. Similarly, Iran could mockingly cite the U.S. precedent to justify sending drones after rebels in Syria. Even Brennan has conceded that the administration is “establishing precedents that other nations may follow.” Controlling the spread of drone technology will prove impossible; that horse left the barn years ago. Drones are highly capable weapons that are easy to produce, and so there is no chance that Washington can stop other militaries from acquiring and using them. Nearly 90 other countries already have surveillance drones in their arsenals, and China is producing several inexpensive models for export. Armed drones are more difficult to produce and deploy, but they, too, will likely spread rapidly. Beijing even recently announced (although later denied) that it had considered sending a drone to Myanmar (also called Burma) to kill a wanted drug trafficker hiding there. The spread of drones cannot be stopped, but the United States can still influence how they are used. The coming proliferation means that Washington needs to set forth a clear policy now on extrajudicial and extraterritorial killings of terrorists—and stick to it. Fortunately, Obama has begun to discuss what constitutes a legitimate drone strike. But the definition remains murky, and this murkiness will undermine the president’s ability to denounce other countries’ behavior should they start using drones or other means to hunt down enemies. By keeping its policy secret, Washington also makes it easier for critics to claim that the United States is wantonly slaughtering innocents. More transparency would make it harder for countries such as Pakistan to make outlandish claims about what the United States is doing. Drones actually protect many Pakistanis, and Washington should emphasize this fact. By being more open, the administration could also show that it carefully considers the law and the risks to civilians before ordering a strike.

Solves terrorism advantage – consistent process key to diminish civilian casualties – status quo approach guarantees excessive, misguided, and insufficiently planned strikes




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