A short letter for the Washington Post, this time focused on the question of drones and their use as a tactic in American counter-terrorism. My original letter was much longer, but the distilled point is still there. I have touched on this subject before, and would like to return with a much bigger piece at some point but am a bit overwhelmed with other things at the moment. Look for some longer pieces to land in the near future in the meantime.
The confirmed expansion of the drone program in Africa [“U.S. creating a ring of secret drone bases,” front page, Sept. 21] highlights once again the importance of the program to American counterterrorism efforts.
But in the rush to deploy with this clearly effective new technology, have policymakers given enough consideration to the fact that they are carving out a path that almost completely disregards the conventional rules of war, borders and the right of due process in foreign countries?
There also is a longer-term impact of the wanton use of this technology that must be confronted: What happens when others manage to develop the same technology? Can the United States complain when a foreign power uses drones to eliminate individuals they believe are plotting terrorism in a country that is a close American ally? More immediately, can it complain when foreign powers send teams to execute individuals they claim are terrorist plotters? What if these supposed plotters are in the United States?
Raffaello Pantucci, London
The writer is an associate fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization