Stimson in the News

Rachel Stohl quoted in McGill International Review on drone strikes

in Program

There’s the occasional headliner that promises the game-changing targeted killing of important figures in leading terrorist organizations, but is the use of drone strikes in Middle Eastern regions really an effective technique in dismantling and destroying terrorist groups? Although it may appear initially within media exposure that these attempts to weaken groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State through the drone program are beneficial, the few successes largely overshadow the many unintended deaths and consequences of targeted drone strikes. With particular consideration to one of the most widely known drone programs conducted by the United States, it has been found through research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that of the deaths produced by the program, only 3.5% of them were terrorists, with thousands of unintended civilian casualties, hundreds even including children.


Additionally, many people question the reliability and accuracy of the information and intelligence used to carry out the drone strikes properly, as drone strikes are often pre-emptively used before there is the proper amount of proof that the targets are combatants and the rightful subjects of a strike. This can be seen through the comments of Rachel Stohl of the Stimson Center, who has said, “These are precise weapons. The failure is in the intelligence about who it is that we are killing”. Beyond the initial information regarding those targeted in drone striking, there are also problems with the release of information classifying the individuals that were targeted. People that have been killed are classified using simple statuses like “enemy combatant”, when these labels often aren’t verified or expanded upon. Civilians who are inactively protecting themselves with weapons, or men that fit a certain description have all been wrongfully targeted and killed by the drone program, which is something that must be distinguished and properly researched beforehand, and also accounted for in the aftermath.

Read the full article here.

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