Unmanned aerial vehicles, or what are more commonly referred to as drones, have become a key component of U.S. counterterrorism policy. Under the Obama administration, armed drones were used to strike terrorist targets in a number of theaters, both within and outside of active combat zones. Officials described drone strikes as an ethical means to combat the terrorist threat, thereby employing aspects of Just War Theory to justify the use of force. Yet U.S. policy surrounding such use, as established during the Obama administration, is riddled with uncertainties and the lack of clarity about key concepts used to justify to the use of force via armed drones raises a number of questions about the extent to which the U.S. drone program reflects key just war principles. Thus, increasing transparency and public understanding of the United States’ use of armed drones is essential for developing policies and practices on the use of armed drones that better aligns with Just War Theory.
Read the full article in Georgetown Security Studies Review.