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Homeland Security

The Effectiveness of Drone Strikes in Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism Campaigns

The Effectiveness of Drone Strikes in Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism Campaigns - Cover

Authored by Dr. James Igoe Walsh.

September 2013

80 Pages

Summary

The United States increasingly relies on unmanned aerial vehicles—better known as drones—to target insurgent and terrorist groups around the world. Proponents argue that drones are, in both political and military terms, an effective way to coerce such adversaries. Critics suggest that drone strikes not infrequently result in inadvertent civilian casualties, which terrorist and insurgent organizations use as rallying cries to garner support and legitimacy for their acts of violence.

There is surprisingly little systematic evidence that either of these positions is correct. It is not clear if drone strikes have degraded their targets, or that they kill enough civilians to create sizable public backlashes against the United States. Drones are a politically and militarily attractive way to counter insurgents and terrorists, but, paradoxically, this may lead to their use in situations where they are less likely to be effective and where there is difficulty in predicting the consequences.


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