The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
2 Points

Drone attacks against specific targets are a necessary part of modern warfare

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Voting Style: Judge Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/14/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,278 times Debate No: 65125
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




1st round is for acceptance.


Debate Round No. 1


I would like to start of by just saying I have great respect for our military and we have lost many soldiers due to man-to man war. More soldiers die fighting face to face then actually drones that due the job. So why send our troops into war and risk their life's when sending in a nuclear drone, which wont take our soldiers life's but take down the target.


Thanks to pro for starting this debate. I intend to attack the resolution from two different angles:

1. That targeted killings are actually effective. If they're ineffective, then there would be no reason to employ them in modern warfare, thus making them not necessary.

2. That drone attacks are necessary to conduct modern warfare. If there are other avenues of waging warfare other than using UAVs/Drones, then they aren't necessary for modern warfare.

With that let's dive right into things.

Argument One: Targeted Killings don't actually work/make things worse.

Killing a terrorist leader causes more to grow and retaliate. Hezbollah empirics prove. Blum et. al(1)

"eliminating leaders of terrorist organizations ... may ... effect, the rise of more—and more resolute—leaders to replace them. The decapitating of the organization may also invite retaliation by the other members and followers of the organization. ... when Israel assassinated ... Mussawi ... a more charismatic and successful leader, ... Nassrallah, succeeded ... The armed group then avenged the assassination of its former leader in two separate attacks, blowing up Israeli and Jewish targets in Buenos Aires, ..."

Targeted killing which relies on intelligence hurts the ability of the government to gain intelligence on terrorists. Blum et. al(1)

"Targeted killing may also interfere with important gathering of critical intel ... The threat of being targeted will drive current leaders into hiding, making the monitoring of their ... activities ... difficult. ... if these leaders are found and killed, instead of captured, ... counterterrorism forces lose the ability to interrogate them to obtain potentially valuable information ..."

Really big and strong terrorist groups are not affected by targeted killing empirically. Hunter(3)

"attempting to reduce a group’s operational capabilities through targeted killing is of limited utility when posed against groups practicing advanced security measures. ... to ensure al Qaeda’s operational effectiveness, the group stresses the need to maintain internal security, dividing its operatives into overt and covert members functioning under a single leader…al Qaeda’s global network has survived by its members strictly adhering to the principles of operational security. the continued “success” of al Qaeda (measured in its ability to conduct major terrorist attacks worldwide despite international efforts to eradicate it) is a testament to its members’ adherence to operational security. ... this ongoing viability is evidence of the ineffectiveness of targeted killing (as practiced by the U.S. in this case) ..."

In trying to kill one man, drones killed approximately 321 people, from Spiegel Online(5)

"What is the cost of rendering a terrorist harmless once and for all by killing him? During the course of 14 months, the CIA used unmanned and heavily armed small aircraft known as drones to stage 15 strikes against the presumed locations of the leader of the Pakistani Taliban. On Aug. 5, 2009, on the 16th try, the drones finally managed to kill Baitullah Mehsud. ... and 11 others were killed. ... But the hunt for Mehsud cost the lives of far more than 11 people. According to estimates, ... 321 people died in the course of the 16 attempts to eliminate Mehsud -- and it is certain that not all of them were Taliban fighters."

Argument Two: Drone Attacks aren't necessary/Other avenues of warfare

Post 9/11 Terrorist attacks are overrated – more people die from drowning in bathtubs. Mueller(2)

"Two publications ... have independently provided lists of violence committed by Muslim extremists outside of such war zones ... whether that violence be perpetrated by domestic terrorists or by ones with substantial international connections. ... The lists include not only attacks by al-Qaeda, but also those by its imitators, ... as ones by groups with no apparent connection to it whatever. ... the total number of people killed in the five years after 9/11 in such incidents comes to some 200-300 per year. ... it hardly suggests that al-Qaeda's destructive capacities are monumental. ... over the same period far more people have perished in the United States alone in bathtubs drownings ..."

Alternative to Drone strikes: Support and Cooperate with Pakistani security forces, Innocent(4)

"A better strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is for the United States to focus on limiting cross-border movement by supporting local Pakistani security forces with a small number of US Special Forces personnel. To improve fighting capabilitiesand enhance cooperation, Washington and Islamabad must increase the number of military-to-military training programs to help hone Pakistan's counterterrorism capabilities and serve as a confidence-building measure to lessen the Pakistan Army's tilt toward radicalism."

As such, I've shown that not only do drone strikes not work, not only that they make things worse, but also that we have no need for drone strikes right now and that there are other options for combating terror outside of drone strikes. Resolution = negated.


(1) - Blum, Gabriella and Heymann, Phillip B., Law and Policy of Targeted Killing (June 27, 2010). Harvard National Security Journal, Vol. 1, No. 145, 2010
(2) - Muller, John John Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies, Mershon Center Professor of Political Science Department of Political Science, Ohio State University. THE ATOMIC TERRORIST: ASSESSING THE LIKELIHOOD [Prepared for presentation at the Program on International Security Policy, University of Chicago], January 15, 2008
(3) - Hunter, Thomas Byron. 2009. Targeted Killing: Self-Defense, Preemption, and the War on Terrorism. Journal of Strategic Security, 2 (2): 1-52.
(4) - Malou Innocent foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute in Washington DC and fact-finding trip to Pakistan, CATO Institute, 8/25/09,
(5) - Drones Are Lynchpin of Obama's War on Terror By SPIEGEL ONLINE Staff 03/12/2010 SPIEGEL ONLINE correspondents have investigated this new method of warfare and conducted research in the US, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Germany. Read about Obama's drone campaign against terrorism in the following articles.
Debate Round No. 2


Drones do work, they are safer

The real reason the majority of Americans tired of the perpetual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? For some at least one factor was the consideration of the hundreds thousands of Iraqi and Afghanistan people died and suffered over near to the length of a generation. These same people could also be expected to be angered by the death of our own sons and daughters, friends and family, who sacrifice their lives, physical and mental well being, to serve the Country's interests. The majority though lose sleep over the death of the innocents not counted as our allies and brethren. They are collateral damage, necessary to keep America and our children safe. That what we are told, not just by Fox News, but by the other major networks as well. Imagine a world where people who had the same financial interests in the military industrial complex were also heavily invested in the mass media. Welcome to it.

The drones remove a large number of our soldiers from harms way to carry out certain missions, or executions, as the case may be. This is good, we don't want our soldiers to die, and could any ethical or moral reason be good enough to surmount that? It depends how the drones are used of course, but those who control them are those in power, and those in power usually, historically speaking, probably don't have the best interests of the people at heart. Not really. Not the people beyond the sphere of their family, friends and co workers, or their bubble, to be precise. They might believe they do, but that to better sleep at night.

Argument 2:
Drones are always necessary.
Its a more effective way to destroy our target then actually going out there and risking there life's. You say if we had drones that we wouldn't have soldiers, in fact they could be National guard which is almost the same thing but instead they are in their hometown helping out,


Whelp, this is going to be dissapointingly short.

My opponent never responds to the first Blum et al. card talking about how drone strikes and targeted killings of terrorists only cause more to come up, increasing the number of terrorists for us to watch out for. Extend this out as a reason why drone strikes aren't working, therefore aren't necessary for modern warfare.

My opponent also never responds to the second Blum et. al card talking about how drone striking terrorist leaders hurts our intelligence gathering abilities, which harms out abilities to stop terrorist plots long-term. Extend this out for why drone strikes hurt our ability to fight terrorism, therefore aren't necessary for modern warfare.

She also never responds to the Hunter card talking about how drone striking terrorist leaders actually doesn't significantly hamper terrorist activities. Extend this out for a reason why drone strikes don't actually work, therefore aren't necessary for modern warfare.

Also, extend out the Speigel Online card talking about how killing one terrorist with drone strikes took sixteen attempts and cost 321 innoncent lives just to get one terrorist. She responds to this by just saying that it's "collateral damage" necessary to stop terrorism, but a) we don't even need to be fighting terrorism right now, refer back to the Mueller evidence which says that more people die from drowning in their own bathtubs than from terrorist attacks, and b) just brushing off the deaths of 321 innocent people as "collateral damage" doesn't actually justify the use of drones. We shouldn't be contenting ourselves with a faulty method of offing terrorist leaders. We need a method that takes out the man we want to take out and only the man we want to take out on the first try. If it's taking sixteen tries and costing hundreds of innocent lives just to take out one leader, that's not #worth, that's inefficient and ineffective. We need to stop drone striking and come up with something better, not justify the murder of innocent lives as "necessary for the safety of America".

All of these independantly work to show how Drone striking doesn't work and only makes things worse for us, which shows that we shouldn't be using drone strikes for modern warfare. If we shouldn't be using drone strikes for modern warfare, they certainly aren't necessary for modern warfare.

Then, my opponent doesn't respond to a single claim I make in my second argument. Extend out the Mueller evidence which is showing how terrorism really isn't something to worry about right now because more people are dying from drowning in the tub than from acts of terror, showing how unnecessary drone strikes are right now.

She also never responds to my alternative to drone striking, which is to send a small detachment of US special forces to support the local Pakistani military to limit cross-border travel and to help train local forces to better combat terrorism. This a) works to stop terrorism over the long-term, which means it's going to work better than the ineffective drone striking, and b) meets her criteria of not letting American soldiers die because it's putting them in a supportive role, meaning they won't be in the line of fire. This means that my alternative is better by my criteria as well as hers.

So, to put it simply: my opponent doesn't really respond to anything I said in the last round, rather just restates her own points. My points are a direct counter to her points. Extend them out. I win.
Debate Round No. 3
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:02 
Reasons for voting decision: At even a glance, sources are hands down to con. The resolution however could be a lot more clear, as in necessary in what way? I am uncomfortable grading arguments, due to the debate between Lee001 and Zaradi not getting any momentium until the final round. Pro only got as for as an introduction in R2, whereas con mostly focused on the war on terror as if that is the only modern war, while pointing to sources (not all of which can even be confirmed... this is a website, not an academic paper) instead of making his own arguments. Con finally pulled out his real argument in R3, when pro could no longer respond (not hurting conduct, because it was when he finally had a case to respond to). ... Oh and pro, "sending in a nuclear drone," to the best of my knowledge, we don't put anything nuclear on drones.