Secret government documents leaked to the public on Thursday detail the United States’s escalating reliance on drones — and warn that they can be counter-productive and cause a staggering civilian toll.
The cache of documents from an unidentified intelligence official was published by The Intercept and appear to complicate the Obama administration’s narrative about the country’s ongoing military involvement around the world. ...
Among other conclusions, the documents appear to indicate that unintended casualties of drone strikes sometimes far outweigh those of the intended targets. In one five-month period, for instance, just one in 10 people killed in airstrikes was the declared target.
First off, don't assume that this means 90% of the dead are innocent civilians as they want you to believe.
Given our targeting procedures, it is likely that the vast majority of the dead were enemy combatants even if they weren't high ranking enough to be on a list of declared targets. So that statistic is meaningless.
It's meaningless unless the critics of the program want to argue that the Obama administration has a rule that any person running away from a declared target is a Taliban; and that any person refusing to run away from a declared target is just a well disciplined Taliban.
And don't forget, you can kill civilians while in the process of killing enemies. If the target is important enough, it is not a war crime if civilians die if you take as much care as you can to avoid or minimize civilian casualties.
Proportionality comes into play here, too. It is not legal to nuke a city to take out a sniper in a building at the edge of said city.
Since the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan allow our drone strikes, it apparently isn't that maddening or counter-productive.
Honestly, for some, whatever we do will piss them off.
And for another class of "some," if our current president does it, it can't be wrong!
I'm just grateful we try to kill any enemies at all.
UPDATE: Strategypage writes about the real reason drones can work--when they are directed by people on the ground, as the CIA does it.