The Future of Drone Strikes: A Framework for Analyzing Policy Options
CENTER FOR NAVAL ANALYSES ALEXANDRIA VA
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Drone strikes against individuals have become a heavily used tool in U.S. counterterrorism operations since the 911 terrorist attacks. These targeted killing operations have been effective in many respects, but they have simultaneously been highly controversial, with concerns about aspects such as transparency, legality and collateral damage. This controversy has sparked growing discussion within the U.S. and in the international community about possible policy changes that might address some of the issues surrounding drone strikes. However, what this discussion has been missing is an approach for analytically evaluating these proposals, particularly an approach for a assessing the tactical effects they would have on operations, and b incorporating such an assessment with a broad-based evaluation of the implications of public perceptions of drone strike operations. This paper presents a framework for systematically considering policy proposals that aims to fill these gaps. In doing this, it breaks out many of the specific issues that are currently affecting public perceptions of the legitimacy of drone strike operations. In short, the framework suggests evaluating policy options for drone strikes by considering their expected effects on tactical, operational and strategic military effectiveness, as well as perceived legitimacy, and using these determinations to anticipate the net effect of the options on keeping the U.S. and its citizens largely safe from terrorist attacks. It goes on to provide means through which to analyze expected effects on tactical military effectiveness and legitimacy, and how these would contribute to net effectiveness.
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