drone strikes

Latest in drone strikes

Foreign Policy Essay

The U.S. Drone War in Pakistan Revisited

Editor’s Note: The armed drone has become the emblem of U.S. counterterrorism, but critics charge that it leads to high numbers of civilian casualties and a popular backlash in places like Pakistan. Asfandyar Mir, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford, argues that the drone campaign has proven highly effective at degrading (though not ending) al-Qaeda and other groups in Pakistan. He lays out conditions under which a drone campaign would be effective elsewhere, noting the importance of intelligence and the need for a rapid-response capacity.

Foreign Policy Essay

Drone Blowback: Much Ado about Nothing?

Editor’s Note: One of the most common, and seemingly convincing, critiques of the drone program is that it produces "blowback"—each miss that kills civilians, or even each hit that kills a militant, angers locals near the blast zone and inflames national sentiment against the United States in ways that aid militant recruitment. Such arguments are difficult to evaluate, but Aqil Shah of the University of Oklahoma did extensive survey and interview research on this question.

Foreign Policy Essay

Drones Are the New Face of U.S. Foreign Policy. What Good Are They?

Editor’s Note: Drone strikes are among the most important, and among the most contentious, U.S. counterterrorism instruments. Data limits and the complexity of both cause and effect when it comes to terrorism make many judgments on efficacy difficult. A bigger problem, however, is that effectiveness is often divorced from strategy. Jacqueline Hazelton of the Naval War College takes this challenge on, building on her research published in the Journal of Strategic Studies.

drone strikes

A Revived CIA Drone Strike Program? Comments on the New Policy

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Gordon Lubold and Shane Harris reported that President Trump “has given the Central Intelligence Agency secret new authority to conduct drone strikes against suspected terrorists, … changing the Obama administration’s policy of limiting the spy agency’s paramilitary role and reopening a turf war between the agency and the Pentagon.” The article is sparking a lot of hand-wringing. Should it?

Annals of the Trump Administration

Annals of the Trump Administration #2: Which Executive Orders and Directives Are Doomed?

What security-related executive orders are likely to be repealed in whole or in part soon after Donald Trump is sworn in as president? I list some obvious ones below, and will be happy to update the list with predictions others may send me.

1. Executive Order 13491 (Jan. 22, 2009) ("Ensuring Lawful Interrogation")

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Has the U.S. Quietly Ramped Up the Air Campaign Against AQAP in Yemen?

CENTCOM has just released a summary of publicly-acknowledged airstrikes conducted against AQAP targets in Yemen over the first five months of 2016. The list includes three strikes from February and March that were not previously acknowledged, interestingly, and there is no guarantee that there are not others of that kind still awaiting public disclosure.

Intelligence Studies Essay

The Intelligence Studies Essay: Nichols on Leadership Decapitation vs Mid-Tier Degradation

This Intelligence Studies Essay assesses open source research to determine the relative effectiveness of two alternative strategies for directing lethal attacks against terrorist groups: leadership decapitation, or degradation of mid-level management.

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