The Instigator
dragonb95
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
1Historygenius
Con (against)
Winning
18 Points

The United State's Use of Drone Warfare does more Harm than Good

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Post Voting Period
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after 5 votes the winner is...
1Historygenius
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/28/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,266 times Debate No: 31825
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (5)

 

dragonb95

Pro

Burden of the proof is equal. Con will be debating that drone warfare is good. Voters should weigh whether the harm I present is greater than the good con presents.
Rounds
1. Acceptance
2. Arguments (no clash)
3. Clash
4. Clash and Conclusion
1Historygenius

Con

I Gracefully Accept Your Challenge
Debate Round No. 1
dragonb95

Pro

Fantastic. I will begin with my contentions. Please do not refute them until round two.

1. Drone warfare terrorizes and murders innocent civilians
Waleed Shiraz says that his mother has been extremely depressed since the drones hit. Sadullah Wazir says that a lot of people have been mentally affected and developed psychological illnesses. He says that the drones make kids cry all the time. Dawood Ishaq, a father of four young children was going to work when a drone targeted a car and blew it up. The driver and him lost their legs. Adil Hasmi had his house destroyed by a drone strike. He says that he was extremely sad, because normally a house costs one million rupees, while he doesn’t have 5,000 rupees. The list of people who have been negatively affected by drone warfare goes on and on. It isn’t fair to innocent civilians, that they have to put up with bombs flying over their head day in and day out. Would anybody here like to live in a world where you wake up and are afraid to go outside? This is what thousands of Pakistani citizens have to deal with every day, and they have suffered numerous mental and physical injuries because of it [1].
[1]www.livingunderdrones.org

2. Drone warfare is unethical
a. It closely resembles a video game. It belittles war into an first person shooter showdown, but with real collateral damage.
b. It poses no risk to the agressor. War is unethical if the attacker partakes in no risk when shooting dozens of people.
c. It lowers morale and detracts from war comradery and spirit. "Deploying forward with like-minded colleagues, dressing in uniform and living in austere conditions give military forces identity and a sense of belonging. Both are good for military morale and, therefore, the achievement of military objectives. Military commanders will need to devise means of replicating this collective morale for the RCW warrior, who may never physically meet his contemporaries in combat."[3]

A certain amount of collateral damage has always been accepted in the rough-and-tumble of the battlefield, but direct attacks on civilian sites, even if they have been commandeered for military use, causes queasiness in thoughtful soldiers. If they have not been so commandeered, attacks on such sites may constitute war crimes [2].

[2] www.economist.com/node/15814399?story_id=15814399&CFID=122754729&CFTOKEN=98634634
[3]http://www.japcc.de...


3. Drones are innefficient
2% of the people who were killed by drone warfare attacks were actually targets. The United States defines their use of drones as “surgically precise and effective”, with a way to distinguish between innocent civilians and al Qaeda terrorists. Clearly, this is false, and I have studies backing me up. According to an nine month investigation done by Stanford, the harms of drone warfare are absolutely devastating to the communities that are affected by these drones. 60 people, in eight years of drone warfare in Pakistan, were killed that were meant to be killed. Around 2500 were innocent. Over one hundred were children.

4. Drones are easily hackable
College Students at the University of Texas hacked in to drones with only $1000 [4]. If college students with this low of a budget can take over these $80,000 machines, then imagine what Iranians and Pakistanians can do. In fact, don't imagine, I'll tell you. Iraqi militants have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live drone feeds from America's drones [5]. In another incident, Iranians captured and hijacked the RQ-170 sentinel and used it for their own militia [6].

[4]http://rt.com...;
[5]http://online.wsj.com...
[6]http://www.bbc.co.uk...;
1Historygenius

Con

My Arguments

It is important to remember what we are talking about when we discuss drones. We are talking about this:

"Unmanned vehicles can be divided into three categories: Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) and Unmanned Naval Vessels. The latter category can be further subdivided into unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs)." [1]

I will be defending all three of these kinds of drones.

Drones Provide Information


Drones provide good real-time information that the US military cannot get by any other means. This information helps when making important tactical and logistical decisions. This improves the safety of our own troops and civilians. For example, drones can be used to rapidly and accurately view the area of interest in order to find explosives and enemy ambushes. They also help in avoiding civilians with what they can do. Elizabeth Quinatana helps argue:

"Mini-UAVs, such as the Desert Hawk, are much smaller and are designed to be manportable. They are hand launched and are operated from a laptop by military personnel close to the front line. Their endurance ismuch shorter (around an hour) and they are primarily used for beyond-line-of-sight scouting at a range of roughly 5 km. They have been used extensively by allied forces to detect Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and ambushes on convoy routes." [1]

This applies to both UAVs and UGVs, but what about UUVs? As explained here:

"Looking to the future, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the Webb demonstrated an underwater glider which can ‘fly’ using underwater thermal currents. The teamclaims the glider could operate for as long as six months at a time, rising occasionally to the surface to orient itself by GPS. This could be a considerable breakthrough for UUVs, providing cheaper vehicles and significantly extending operational availability."[1]

This means that drones are both quick and accurate in the air, on the ground, and in the water. We must keep our drone programs in order for an efficent way to gather real-time information at a fast pace.

Drones Reduce Civilian Casualties

Like I said above, the improved information gives the US military the ability to target less civilians rather than more. In comparision to manned vehicles, drones are more accurate and precise. No other technology to the exception of drones offers this kind of technology.

Several studies prove that drones do much more better than bombers or missile strikes. Civilians deaths vary from as little as 4% to a high as 20%. [2]

How is this compared to the more conventinal warfare? Read this:

"When the Pakistani Army went after militants in the tribal area on the ground, civilians were 46 percent of those killed. In Israel’s targeted killings of militants from Hamas and other groups, using a range of weapons from bombs to missile strikes, the collateral death rate was 41 percent, according to an Israeli human rights group." [2]

That's not it, deaths from forms conflict besides drone killings range from 33% to 80%. Their is obviously risk when comparing and analyzing different types of warfare, but we can prove that drones do much better in avoiding civilian and non-target deaths. [2]

In fact, civilian deaths from drones have been going down over time from 16% between 2004 and 2007 to 10% between 2008 and 2012. In 2012 alone, the civilian death rate was as low as 1% and read this:

"Pakistani security officials acknowledged during background interviews with the Washington Post in mid-2010 that, in fact, better technology, a deeper network of informants on the ground and better coordination between U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials had all contributed to a significant drop in civilian deaths in drone strikes." [3]

Reduces Casualties of Soldiers and Improves Safety

Drones are able to keep soldiers away from death or injury in battle. Soldiers can use drones to detect and defuse bombs that may have otherwise not been noticed. They can also guide soldiers to rescue fellow endangered soldiers or attack enemy force from weak areas. Any drone can do this without putting a soldier in danger. Read this on the Raven drone:

"At its simplest, a Raven acts as a flying pair of binoculars that can look over the next hill, or escort a convoy from above. Being small and quiet, it can get close to targets unobserved, for a good look. Unlike bigger drones, whose limited numbers mean that officers in the field are in constant competition for their services, Ravens are abundant and thus generally available to provide instant video imagery, day or night. Special display software overlays the images they send back on a map to produce a moving picture of what is going on on the ground. An operator can thus call down artillery fire with lethal precision without having to see the target directly. For extra accuracy, Raven can also mark targets with a laser illuminator." [4]

Conclusion

Drones provide many advantages to protect both soldiers and civilians. They also provide good observation of the battlefield and improve the effectiveness of strikes. It does not matter if once and a while drones make mistakes, as that is an argument on

Sources

1. Quintana, Elizabeth. "The Ethics and Legal Implications of Military Unmanned Vehicles." Royal United Services Institute, n.d. Web
2. Shane, Scott. "NEWS ANALYSIS; The Moral Case For Drones." The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 July 2012. Web.
3.
Bergen, Peter. "Civilian Casualties Plummet in Drone Strikes." CNN. Cable News Network, 14 July 2012. Web.
4. "Joining the Drones Club." The Economist, 3 Sept. 2011. Web.
Debate Round No. 2
dragonb95

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for posting so punctually. I will commence with refutations.

Refutations
My opponent provides no examples or sources of drone warfare actually help in gathering information. I want examples of times drones have actually helped in combat and battle preparation, and how specifically drones were built for doing this job.

My opponent also cites a quote about what drones can do in the future, however please discard this becuase it is completely irrelevant. The debate pertains to the United State's Current use of drone warfare, not some hypothetical in the future drone. This is like saying "in the future drones might be able to shoot laser beams into the stars and cure world hunger! It could happen!".

My opponent mentions that drones reduce civilian casualties, but clearly it does not. He says that it helps the US military target less civlians, but as I have proven in my first point, drones are capricious and rarely accurate.

My opponent cites a quote about the Pakistani Army on foot and Israel's missile strikes, however, this is irrelevant because the debate is limited to America.

My opponent said that civilian deaths are going down, but that doesn't change the fact that there are still too many civilian deaths. The rate at which terrorists are caught is so low that the non combatant lives lost are so much more than the terrorists that die. According to Bill Moyers, 60 terrorists have died since 2002 in drone fights. Those are 60 terrorists that might not have even been threats. Compare this to the thousands of innocent non combatants terrorized by drones everyday.

My opponent says that drones are able to keep soldiers away from death or injury, however as I have talked about in my points this dehumanizes war.

Also, many innocent civilians are killed. Are you saying that our soldier's lives are more important than the lives of innocent civilians?

I will weigh the debate so far. On my side, drones kill thousands of civilians and terrorize many thousands more. They have a low sucess rate, and dehumanize the very ethics of war. On pro's side, they are flying cameras (he gives no examples of when this has helped), kill less civilians than bomb strikes (duh), and it saves some soldier's lives while RUTHLESSLY killing thosuands of innocent non combatants. Which arguments would you give more weight?
1Historygenius

Con

My Refutations

Drones and Information

"My opponent provides no examples
or sources of drone warfare actually help in gathering information. I want examples of times drones have actually helped in combat and battle preparation, and how specifically drones were built for doing this job."


What my opponent said here is just plain wrong. My first source clearly gives such information by discussing the Desert Hawk. It gives specific information of how the Desert Hawk works and how far they can see. It clearly says that they have been used by us and our allies many times to detect IEDs. [1] My second source backs it up with this:

"Since drone operators can view a target for hours or days in advance of a strike, they can identify terrorists more accurately than ground troops or conventional pilots. They are able to time a strike when innocents are not nearby and can even divert a missile after firing if, say, a child wanders into range." [2]

In fact, drone pilots can ask for advice from a commander on the situtation. The commander can view the evidence and decide. [2]

By contrast, my opponent cites a couple news stories for his first argument, but these are just isolated cases because like I said, civilian casualties have been reported to be going down.

"My opponent also cites a quote about what drones can do in the future, however please discard this becuase it is completely irrelevant. The debate pertains to the United State's Current use of drone warfare, not some hypothetical in the future drone."

My opponent never clarified in the first round if discussing the work on future drones is not allowed. I included it because its part of the drones programs the United States has set up. In fact these drones, underwater gliders, have already been tested to work and are being produced, so it is current. [1]

Civilian Deaths

"My opponent said that civilian deaths are going down, but that doesn't change the fact that there are still too many civilian deaths. The rate at which terrorists are caught is so low that the non combatant lives lost are so much more than the terrorists that die. According to Bill Moyers, 60 terrorists have died since 2002 in drone fights. Those are 60 terrorists that might not have even been threats. Compare this to the thousands of innocent non combatants terrorized by drones everyday."

Thousands is blowing it out of proportion. Between 2004 and 2007, between 148 and 309 civilians died. This is very small compared to 1,500 terrorists getting killed by drone strikes. [3] In fact, by now:

"By the count of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, which has done perhaps the most detailed and skeptical study of the strikes, the C.I.A. operators are improving their performance. The bureau has documented a notable drop in the civilian proportion of drone casualties, to 16 percent of those killed in 2011 from 28 percent in 2008. This year, by the bureau’s count, just three of the 152 people killed in drone strikes through July 7 were civilians." [4]

My opponent then discussed the ethics of drone warfare. The first is that is resembles too much like a video game, but that is irrelevant as that does not discuss how effective they are. Collateral damage is nothing major. Then my opponent says that the drone poses no risk to the agressor, but its supposed to attack the enemy, not the person using it. The same could be said for bombers and missiles. The third is that it destroys the military identity and lowers morale, but people said that about previous military inventions. Is the drone no different? We don't dress in bright colored uniforms and march towards each other in long lines anymore. This is not the 1700s, war progresses. We must move forward like other countries or move backward.

"My opponent cites a quote about the Pakistani Army on foot and Israel's missile strikes, however, this is irrelevant because the debate is limited to America."

I used Pakistan for the purpose of comparision when putting a traditional army vs. a drone army, so all I was doing was comparing drones to conventinal forces. The drones have been proven to be better.

Conclusion

My arguments are still standing and I have properly refuted Pro's arguments. Drones are able to obtain real-time information and save lives.

Sources


1. Quintana, Elizabeth. "The Ethics and Legal Implications of Military Unmanned Vehicles." Royal United Services Institute, n.d. Web

2. Shane, Scott. "NEWS ANALYSIS; The Moral Case For Drones." The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 July 2012. Web.
3. Bergen, Peter. "Civilian Casualties Plummet in Drone Strikes." CNN. Cable News Network, 14 July 2012. Web.
4. "Joining the Drones Club." The Economist, 3 Sept. 2011. Web.
Debate Round No. 3
dragonb95

Pro

Thank you for posting so punctually.

Counter Refutations

I will give the point about gathering information to my opponent. It is not very weighty and there is no way of refuting this.

My opponent says that I never clarified that future drones are not included in this debate, but it really goes without saying. If the resolution is "The United States Use of Drone Warfare does more Harm than Good", why would you think that possible drones in the future would be relevant if the United States hasn't used them yet.

My opponent says that thousands is out of proportion, but this is false. He says between 2004 and 2007 there were 300 civilian deaths, but that is just in those three years. Most of the deaths occurred from 2008-2010 because of Obama's pro-drone policies. Also, he says that 1500 terrorists were killed, but not all of these were terrorists. 60 were terrorists, the other 1400 were militants and soldiers, and the remaining thousands were innocent civilians.

My opponent dismisses my point on how drone warfare is like a video game because it does not discuss effectiveness, but that is a weightless refutation. The point is on ethics, so a refutation about how I don't address effectiveness is irrelevant. I discuss effectiveness in other points. Have you ever seen a drone controller? It has a joystick on it. Is that what war is now? A point and shoot game where you kill dozens of people with a click?

My opponent then mentions how bombers and missiles also dehumanize war. This is true. I think that bombers and missiles completely dehumanize war. That doesn't change the fact that we are debating drones.

My opponent says that drones are no different than previous military inventions in terms of military camaraderie and moral, however this is false. There is a difference between playing a video game and being out in the real battlefield with your buddies.

My opponent then defends his quote on Pakistan's use, but again, it is irrelevant because we are debating America. Disregard this point.

Conclusion

Let's weigh this debate, going point by point.

Pro's Points

1. Drones provide information.

I give this point to my opponent. It is not of substantial weight.


2. Drones reduce civilian casualties.

How can drones reduce civilian casualties when it is adding on to normal warfare. We are just pouring on more civilian casualties to the already enormous amount of deaths. My opponent says that numbers are going down, but still, the numbers are substantial. There is still too low of a success rate. My opponent also brings a point about other countries, which, as I have pointed out, are irrelevant to this limited debate.


3. Reduces soldier casualties

As I pointed out, removing soldiers from danger dehumanizes war and war ethics. Also, thousands of innocent civilians are being killed by soldiers. Are we saying that our men are worth more than any other innocent people in the world?


Con's Points


1. Drone warfare terrorizes innocent civilians

My opponent refuted this by saying that the numbers are going down, but these are still big numbers. My opponent points out that there were only a few hundred deaths between 2004 and 2007, but this is being selective. Many thousands of deaths were suffered in the years preceding and afterwards. He also says that 1,500 terrorists were killed, but this number includes militants and soldiers. Only 60 were terrorists.


2. Drone warfare is unethical.

a. Drones are like a video game. My opponent refuted this by saying that that this doesn't talk about efficiency. This is a silly refutation. He obviously couldn't think of something real to say to that.

b. It poses no risk to the aggressor. My opponent said that the same could be said for bombs and missiles. I whole heartedly agree and think that all three methods are in violation of war methods. Try googling "The Hague Convention of 1907". It technically bans nuclear weapons and intrinsically evil weapons. We are debating drones though.
c. It lowers morale and detracts from war spirit. My opponent said that this is due to technology changing, however, even now in the battlefields soldiers get a chance to interact, bond, and form friendships.

3. Drones are inefficient.
My opponent did not refute this point.

4. Drones are easily hacked.
My opponent did not refute this point.

A few concluding sentences, and then a proper weigh and flow for this debate. Remember the two important points my opponent has failed to refute. Also, his refutations seem to be reiterations of his own points if anything. Drones do not eliminate ware or reduce civilian deaths. Regular warfare hasn't stopped because of drone warfare. All drone warfare does is add on to the unnecessary amount of carnage. More carnage. That is what my opponent is debating for. My opponent might try to say that any percentage of efficiency is worth it, but not at the costs of thousands of innocent non-combatants. They have just as much right to life as we do. Vote con.

Now, a proper flow.

Drones provide information

Drones reduce civilian casualties->
They actually add on to normal deaths.

Improves soldier safety->Innocent non-combatants have just as much a right to life as us, especially since they are not. Also this dehumanizes war ethics.


Drones terrorize and murder innocent citizens->The numbers are going down->These are still big numbers. More unnecessary carnage.

Drones are too similar too video games->
This point doesn't discuss efficiency, so it is irrelevant-> That's because the point isn't about efficiency. I never limited this debate to efficiency.

It poses no risk to the aggressor->
The same could be said for bombers and missiles.->Exactly. Bombers and missiles go against war ethics completely.

Lowers military companionship->
This changes as technology changes->Our wars still fought on grounds are fought together in teams. There is still military companionship, and it shouldn't go away. It increases morale and sense of belonging.

Drones are inefficient

Drones are easily hackable

Now, looking at the points we have standing...

Drones are flying cameras, drones dehumanize war so much that the aggressor is in no risk and can just point and shoot and dozens of people like a video game, civilian deaths have been going down in the last two years

vs.

Drones terrorize innocent citizens (think about who is the terrorist here), drones are too similar to video games, drones pose no risk to the aggressor, drones lower military companionship, drones are inefficient, drones are easily hackable.

Thanks for reading, and 1historygenius thanks for debating me. I strongly encourage you to vote, regardless of which side you choose.

1Historygenius

Con

My Refutations

My Arguments


I. Information

"I will give the point about gathering information to my opponent. It is not very weighty and there is no way of refuting this."

I win here.

"My opponent says that I never clarified that future drones are not included in this debate, but it really goes without saying. If the resolution is "The United States Use of Drone Warfare does more Harm than Good", why would you think that possible drones in the future would be relevant if the United States hasn't used them yet."

Because this is part of the information gathering catergory of my arguments, this is irrelevant since my opponent already conceded in my information argument. Nevertheless, the reason I put in future drones is because the US is currently using drones. Obviously the US is building future drones for wars. My opponent had to argue against this, but failed and conceded.

II. Civilian Deaths

I mentioned the deaths in 2008 to 2010. These deaths have been massively declining due to better technology. Drones deaths as of now are as low as between 4% to 20%. Perhaps I should repeat this again:

"The bureau has documented a notable drop in the civilian proportion of drone casualties, to 16 percent of those killed in 2011 from 28 percent in 2008. This year, by the bureau’s count, just three of the 152 people killed in drone strikes through July 7 were civilians." [1]

This article was published in 2012.

III. Reduces Casualties of Soldiers

My opponent terribly refuted this argument by answering it with a question. It does not matter how worthy certain people are, what matters is that drones have been proven to save lives. This means that less soldiers are in danger. In fact, the rise of the use of drones reduces the amount of soldiers needed to fight, putting less people in harms way. Dehumanizing war is a good thing, not a bad thing. Less human lives are lost. It seems my opponent is for human death in war.

My Opponent's Arguments

I. Drone Warfare Hurts Civilians

Three civilians were killed by drones in 2012. If my opponent thinks that is a lot then 10 civilians deaths must be somewhere near infinity. [1]

II. Unethical

Video games are completely irrelevant to this debate because its on if drone warfare has been positive or negative. My opponent's argument here was that it turns war into a first-person shooter, but has not explained how that is bad. It is in fact good. Its better to have troops safer away form battlefields rather than being in the thick of it and at risk of getting killed.

Next is that ir poses no risk to the agressor. Because drones can be a weapon through the air, it is relevant to compare them to bombers and missiles. These have never truly been banned the Hauge Convention was unable to be effective. Because of this, drones are as fair as any other air weapon. The idea of using no air weapons would take us back to a pre-World War 1 era. Many other countries are using drones and the United States must keep up.

Finally, the use of drones builds its own moral. When the news talks about a terrorist getting killed by drones, its a victory for the US. This naturally raises moral not just in the military, but among the entire population. Because of this, drones raise moral. Soldiers have plenty of time to interact at bases.

III. Inefficiency

The idea that I never refuted my opponent's point on if drones are inefficient is incorrect. Only three civilians were killed in 2012. The rest were succesful targets. Drones are efficient.

IV. Easily Hackable

The US government has been improving the security of using drones. Security to block hacking has been increasing dramatically. The ability to hack into drones has been decreasing incredibly. [2]

Sources

1. Shane, Scott. "NEWS ANALYSIS; The Moral Case For Drones." The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 July 2012. Web.
2. Quintana, Elizabeth. "The Ethics and Legal Implications of Military Unmanned Vehicles." Royal United Services Institute, n.d. Web


Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by dragonb95 3 years ago
dragonb95
it is super annoying
Posted by 1Historygenius 3 years ago
1Historygenius
Are you sure my large text is really that annoying.
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
Con should get rid of the extra-large title font; the format distracts from the challenge. The expression is "gratefully accept" not "gracefully accept." Con should give the web links to the references, not the title that then has to be searched to find the reference. If a reference has a lot of material, Con should point to the page that has the data supporting a specific argument. It can't be a reading assignment.

I think Con could have made a better argument about civilian casualties. Terrorists systematically try to hide behind civilians. Pro seems to argue that if they do that, they should always be always allowed to get away. That's not a viable strategy.

Overall, Con handled the arguments successfully. His references were a pain to find, but they gave good evidence.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by qopel 3 years ago
qopel
dragonb951HistorygeniusTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Tie
Vote Placed by ConservativePolitico 3 years ago
ConservativePolitico
dragonb951HistorygeniusTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Con showed with facts how drones do indeed do more harm than good. While Pro was right in pointing out that drones do cause some kind of harm Con won because he showed that the good and benefits of drones outweigh the harm thus supporting the resolution. Con also had very detailed and specific sources when Pro basically gave up on source use.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
dragonb951HistorygeniusTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: See comments.
Vote Placed by Reni-1_3 3 years ago
Reni-1_3
dragonb951HistorygeniusTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: I cast my vote solely on the reason that drone warfare DOES do more good, we aren't losing thousands of soldiers, and militarily I believe warfare is leaning towards technology anyways, and drones are just the start.
Vote Placed by tmar19652 3 years ago
tmar19652
dragonb951HistorygeniusTied
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Reasons for voting decision: When con cited that only 3 innocents were killed by drones in 2012, he won arguments. Though pro made good points, the benefits of drones such as intelligence and targeted killing out weight the detriments. Pro also used fewer sources and conduct was the same.