Joseph Singh 12, researcher at the Center for a New American Security [August 13, 2012, “Betting Against a Drone Arms Race,” http://nation.time.com/2012/08/13/betting-against-a-drone-arms-race/#ixzz2eSvaZnfQ]
In short, the doomsday drone scenario Ignatieff and Sharkey predict results from an excessive focus on rapidly-evolving military technology.
Instead, we must return to what we know about state behavior in an anarchistic international order. Nations will confront thesame principles of deterrence, for example, when deciding to launch a targeted killing operationregardless of whether they conduct it through a drone or a covert amphibious assault team.
Drones may make waging war more domestically palatable, but they don’t change the very serious risks of retaliation for an attacking state. Any state otherwise deterred from using force abroadwill not significantly increase its power projection onaccount of acquiring drones.
What’s more, the very states whose use of drones could threaten U.S. security—countries like China—are not democratic, which means that the possible political ramifications of the low risk of casualties resulting from drone use areirrelevant. For all their military benefits, putting drones into play requires an ability to meet the political and security risks associated with their use.
Despite these realities, there remain a host of defensible arguments one could employ to discredit the Obama drone strategy. The legal justification for targeted killings in areas not internationally recognized as war zones is uncertain at best.
Further, the short-term gains yielded by targeted killing operations in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, while debilitating to Al Qaeda leadership in the short-term, may serve to destroy already tenacious bilateral relations in the region and radicalize local populations.
Yet, the past decade’s experience with drones bearsno evidenceof impending instability in the global strategic landscape. Conflict may not be any less likely in the era of drones, but the nature of 21st Century warfare remainsfundamentally unaltereddespite their arrival in large numbers.