The Instigator
GreenTeas
Pro (for)
Winning
16 Points
The Contender
Stephen_Hawkins
Con (against)
Losing
6 Points

This house supports the use of drones by the military

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
GreenTeas
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/9/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 10,071 times Debate No: 29037
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (52)
Votes (6)

 

GreenTeas

Pro

The following debate will examine the use of drones in military action. Both sides will share the burden of proof for their respective arguments.

Definitions:

drone: an unmanned vehicle remotely controlled by a human operator

Rules (borrowed and modified from another debate)

This opening round is for definitions and acceptance only. The Pro case will be presented at the start of the 2nd round.

Standard debate conventions apply. Both sides agree to the following rules, and that violating the rules is a conduct violation, with anything contrary to the rules to be ignored by readers judging the debate:

DR 1. All arguments must be made in the debate. Evidence may be cited or linked to the debate, but only in support of arguments made in the debate. Arguments made in Comments are to be ignored.

DR 2. Source links or references must be included within the 8000 characters per round limit of the debate. No links or sources are permitted in comments.

DR 3. Any term not specifically defined before use is to be taken with the ordinary dictionary definition of the term that best fits the context of the debate.

DR 4. No new arguments shall be made in Round 4. Pro may rebut previous arguments using new evidence solely for that purpose, but no new arguments are allowed. Con may not present any new evidence in R4.

DR 5. DDO site rules always apply, unless superseded by debate rules. Neither side may add or modify rules for the debate once the challenge is accepted.

DR 6. Both sides share the burden of proof for their respective arguments.
Stephen_Hawkins

Con

I accept, with a redefinition of Drones:

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS), also known as drones, are aircraft either controlled by ‘pilots’ from the ground or increasingly, autonomously following a pre-programmed mission. (While there are dozens of different types of drones, they basically fall into two categories: those that are used for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes and those that are armed with missiles and bombs.[1]

http://dronewarsuk.wordpress.com... from http://peacenews.info...;
Debate Round No. 1
GreenTeas

Pro

As Pro, I will be arguing for the use of drones by the military.


First, I will NOT be arguing that the government should use drones in EVERY type of possible situation. Can these drones be misused? Yes. Can bombs be misused? Yes. Guns? Yes. Ethical implications accompany every military action and weapon where human lives are at stake, including the use of drones.

Instead, I WILL be arguing that the advantages of drones – as a whole – justify their use by the military in certain circumstances. Those advantages include improved surveillance of targets, improved reconnaissance of territory, improved weapons targeting, house clearing searches, recovery of injured soldiers, decoys, mobile communications, and the detection and triggering of enemy explosives.[1]

Types of Military Drones

The definition of drones, per the comments, is the following:

unmanned, military vehicles – often remotely controlled by a human operator but with varying degrees of autonomy – that frequently are equipped with armament, radar, cameras, lasers, or sensors, amongst other tools

For the purposes of familiarizing the reader, I will briefly summarize the two most common types of drones utilized by the military: (1) unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs); and (2) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

1. Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs)

UGVs are ground-based drones, often varying in size depending on their purpose. UGVs are typically used in urban combat environments – by 2008, over 4,000 were employed in Iraq – because of their ability to entire into confined spaces and navigate around obstacles.[1]

UGVs can be used for the detection and disposal of enemy explosives, reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, house clearing searches, logistics, fire-fighting, mobile communications links, mobile power supplies, decoy targets, recovery of injured soldiers, and vehicle checkpoints.[1]

2. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

UAVs are aerial drones – ranging in size from hand-held to that of manned aircraft – that carry out a variety of functions. UAVs can stay in the air for up to 30 hours and are capable of travelling significant distances.

Most UAVs are used in reconnaissance, surveillance, and target destination, but have increasingly been used to deploy weapons in recent years.[1]

Arguments for the Use of Military Drones

1. Drones provide real-time information that could not be obtained by other means

Drones allow the military to acquire real-time information about enemy activities and terrain that could not otherwise be acquired in a fast-changing environment – information that aids tactical choices and improves civilian and allied safety.

Military personnel can use drones to quickly and accurately survey the front line and surrounding areas to detect improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and potential ambushes on convoy routes; locate and follow enemy targets; locate, protect, or avoid civilians; and other purposes related to real-time information about on-the-ground situations.[2][3]

This instant, real-time information frequently cannot be acquired by other means. Satellites, which are often used for quasi-surveillance purposes, are too limited in number to cover every possible combat location, cannot see through cloud obstructions, cannot be employed at a moment’s notice, and can obtain only a limited top-down image that cannot look into or under structures. Similarly, on the ground troops have limited mobility, limited vision, and are at risk for being discovered or attacked.

Drones are a highly mobile tool that can view wide areas, from different viewpoints, in a matter of minutes.[3] No other technology offers this capability. Without drones, a wide-array of valuable information would be unobtainable. This information about enemy activities, terrain, and civilians ultimately informs the military’s tactical choices – improving outcome and saving lives.

2. Drones reduce civilian and non-target casualties

With improved surveillance of enemy activities, the military can make more informed decisions with regard to attacks. The ability to identify and follow targets more accurately than conventional pilots or ground troops allows the military to initiate strikes that will be more precise and occur at a time that will minimize civilian casualties – particularly when the strikes are deployed from the drone itself. This combination of tools offered by the drone is not available through any other technology.

Several studies suggest that drone-based attacks are more effective at reducing collateral damage than previous types of weapons – such as bombs or conventional missile strikes.[4] The estimated percentage of civilian deaths for drone strikes varies, with four different studies ranging from as a low as 4 percent to as high as 20 percent.[4]

In the last two decades, other forms of conflict and military strikes have incurred civilian deaths ranging from 33 percent to more than 80 percent.[4] There is, of course, risk in comparing these numbers due to the different types of warfare being analyzed, but in the least we can infer that drone attacks appear to be safer for civilians than other forms of military attack that have been employed in the past.

Moreover, drone strikes have become safer for civilians over time. Civilian casualties have continuously decreased as the military gains greater experience and skill with the technology. Between 2004 and 2007, the estimated civilian death rate from drone strikes was 16 percent.[5] Between 2008 and 2012, the civilian death rate was about 10 percent.[5] In 2012, the civilian death rate was estimated as a low as 1 percent.[5]

This decreasing rate of civilian deaths supports the military’s increasing ability to effectively and prudently employ drones for attack purposes.

**Important**

Whether the military should be widely using drones for targeted strikes is not an argument against the use of drones. Instead, it is an argument against the military’s policy of widespread targeted killings – not the subject of this debate. Drones allow effective, efficient, and informed missile strikes, as compared to other methods. How often we should be using this tool, and in what contexts, is a different issue from whether the military should ever use drones. Further, many drones carry out purposes unrelated to missile strikes, as discussed previously, which confer tremendous benefit to the military’s effectiveness.

Thus, the issue is whether the military should have this tool available at all, and – due to the many advantages of drones – the military should have it available.

3. Reduced Soldier Casualty and Improved Safety

Drones also have the important advantage of keeping soldiers out of harm’s way. Soldiers can employ drones to detect and defuse bombs, investigate buildings and alleys, survey perimeters, survey enemy territory, rescue and provide cover for endangered soldiers, follow or engage enemy combatants, and a multitude of other uses – all without having to place a soldier in a dangerous situation.[1-3]

The value of this protection is the same as any former technology that serves to save soldier’s lives, such as armor to protect vehicles and soldiers, binoculars to view enemies and terrains from afar, and so on. Drones allow soldiers to accomplish their missions without personally stepping into potential harm, a clear benefit in saving lives.

Conclusion

Drones provide numerous advantages that improve the information available to the military, improve the effectiveness of military strikes, and reduce soldier and civilian casualties. These improvements save lives and should be employed by the military.

Whether some types of drones are being misused in targeted killings is an important issue, but it is an argument against how certain drones should be used by the military, not whether they should be used by the military at all.

Sources

[1] http://tinyurl.com...

[2] http://tinyurl.com...

[3] http://tinyurl.com...

[4] http://tinyurl.com...

[5] http://tinyurl.com...

Stephen_Hawkins

Con

You have just heard the house promoting the military's use of drones: I will explain here why this house rejects the military's use of drones. I shall use the first round to set out my arguments, then the second to rebut. We both agree on what are drones, as far as I can tell, but I shall make explicit my burden: I aim to show that the use of drones by the military is in general unjust, and needs to change. The military's current use of drones is immoral and needs to change. Moreover, I shall question the general underlying principles of my opponent's arguments.

Drones have no ability to distinguish between bystanders and targets

Consider a drone pilot following a potential human target. The pilot has been told his target is hostile, and he should be ready to shoot. Frightened and aware of what is imminently coming, the targetted man waves his hands to identify himself as non-threatening and to surrender to his enemy. If the pilot was a solider on the ground, he could accept the surrender, but instead the pilot is thousands of miles away, unable to react. There is no way to accept his surrender, and if a mistake has been made and this man has been falseley identified as a target and is instead a civilian, this cannot be communicated. A pilot in this case would nonetheless be forced to pull the trigger, as there is no identifiable or feasible way for someone to surrender to an unmanned drone. Of course, one may claim that the numbers show that there are very little non-militant deaths from use of drones. This is true. This is because the US administration defines the targets as militants, defined as “All military-age males in a strike zone”. Every man killed by a drone are, according to the military, targets, and thus are defined as “militant” deaths, not civilian deaths. Drones cause mass innocent death. This completely undermines, interestingly, my opponent's case that drones reduce civilian casualties.

Drones break International Law and human rights

Protocol I of the Geneva Convention states that "a person is hors du combat if...he clearly expresses intention to surrender"[1]. Such a person is considered “outside of combat” and thus even if he is a combatant at the point where he surrenders he is as illegitimate a target as any other civilian. Drone warfare offers no inherent facility to deal with such individuals, save for killing them or conversely allowing them safe passage — the latter being an extremely unlikely outcome in most cases. The oft-horrific result of such a circumstance has been noted by the people most intimately familiar with the program itself. In the words of ex-Joint Chiefs of Staff James Cartwright, “To me, the weakness in the drone activity is that if there’s no one on the ground, and the person puts his hands out, he can’t surrender … What makes it worse with a Predator is you’re actually watching it. You know when he puts his hands up.”[2]

Assassination by Drone

Another
objection to drones is that they have blurred the line between war and assassination. Somebody suspected of plotting a terrorist attack on the soil of the US or the UK would be subject to arrest and prosecution. But if the suspects are in the tribal areas of Pakistan, they can simply be blown away. Drones mean that the judicial process is with ease completely ignored, because it is easier to kill than to prosecute. One may say that "this is war" and so they will die one way or another, whether it is drones or soldiers. The problem though is that drones are used mostly on their own to scout out for targets, follow them for hours, and then attack. These targets could have been brought in, or at the very least given the chance to surrender, but instead are simply killed outright.

Drones push us in many more wars than we want

The low cost of war also causes massive problems for the ethical standard we have to hold ourselves to. Usually the high cost of war was a massive deterrent, but the fact it is so easy to fight means the common reason to not go to war, and the most important in most cases, disappears. The US is currently firing drones at Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, yet is somehow not at war. To quote Yemeni lawyer Haykal Banafa: “Dear Obama, when a U.S. drone missile kills a child in Yemen, the father will go to war with you, guaranteed. Nothing to do with Al Qaeda.”[3] Moreover, the fact that the cost of drones is lower means that public support for war is no longer as vital as it needs to be. Their use means that the miltiary can easily wage wars without us knowing. Taking the example of Yemen, or Oman, there are many nations which drones are used to attack targets, without formal declaration of war that we do not publicly know. Drones are contrary to peace and alienate the public from the government.

Drone use ruins foreign relations

Moreover, as Mothana puts, "Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants; they are not driven by ideology but rather by a sense of revenge and despair."[3] Drones are ruining foreign relations, training more militants, and "rather than winning the hearts and minds of civilians, is alienating them by killing their relatives and friends"[3].

Currently, I have givena series of arguments why we should oppose drone warfare. However, now I want to argue against warfare in general - or against the use of war at all by our nations. In the words of Clausewitz: "War is merely the extension of politics...and the means can never be considered in isolation form their purposes."

We are under no military threat

No first world nation is under any serious threat. Our targets especially are nations like Yemen[4], too poor to counteract, or Afghanistan[5], who are already crippled. The use of the military in these circumstances is nothing short of abhorrent, as well as fruitless and without value. War does not boost the economy - but even then this is irrelevant. The military cost is so astronomically high that continuing in these wars is a waste of money, time, and most importantly, lives. By affirming this resolution, we must affirm the commitments in these fruitless wars.

In the short term, war is astronomically costly

I have already touched this issue, but war is astronomically costly in the short term. War costs thousands of lives[7][8], billions of pounds[6], and cripple our nation's cultural growth, creating emotively based national and anti-national sentiment, dividing countries.

In the long term, War has uncertain outcomes

War in the long term is extremely uncertain to get the goals we want. To quote Caplan: "[M]any other wars - like the French Revolution and World War I - just sowed the seeds for new and greater horrors. You could say, "Fine, let's only fight wars with big long-run benefits." In practice, however, it's very difficult to predict a war's long-run consequences. One of the great lessons of Tetlock's Expert Political Judgment is that foreign policy experts are much more certain of their predictions than they have any right to be."[9] We have no idea what wars we should fight in, and especially how to fight them. In practice, getting it wrong leads to astronomic problems, like the war in Iraq, leaving us in a country for astounding periods of time due to poor tactics. War's chaotic nature should make us rule it out of any tactic, and with it, drone warfare.

Conclusion

I suggest not only are there countless reasons to oppose drone warfare, but many reasons to oppose warfare in total.

Debate Round No. 2
GreenTeas

Pro

In this round, I present my rebuttal.

Even if one disagrees with certain military policies involving drones, one can still support the use of drones by the military. You could disagree with missile strikes in Kosovo, but you could still support the use of missiles by the military.

I am arguing that the military should be able to use drones due to their inherent advantages – both in military strikes and non-combat purposes (which constitute the majority of drones).


Rebuttal to :: Drones have no ability to distinguish between bystanders and targets

My opponent argues that drones have no capability to distinguish between bystanders and actual targets because drone pilots must rely on the information provided to them before striking.

However, conventional aircraft pilots are subject to the exact same limitations of information prior to deploying missiles or bombs as drone pilots. Further, unlike conventional pilots, drone pilots will have even more information available to them, because they will have often observed and followed their target for days before initiating the strike.[1]

Conventional pilots are similarly unable to accept the surrender of a combatant, just as drone pilots would be.

The only difference between conventional pilots and drone pilots, in this regard, is that drone pilots have continuous surveillance of the area that is being targeted and can choose to abort or divert the missile if evidence emerges that the target is not correct or civilians are present.[1] This type of evidence is frequently not available to a conventional pilot who is sent to deploy missiles or bombs from miles above. Nor would that information be available when missiles are launched from surface ships or submarines – such as the Tomahawk missile commonly used in the past.

Moreover, drone pilots can seek direct advice from their commanding officer, who can view the information and real-time video himself, before deciding to strike – another option not available to conventional pilots that improves the reliability of this form of military strike.[1]


Rebuttal to :: Drones break international law and human rights

My opponent argues that killing persons who are “outside of combat” from surrendering may break the Geneva Convention. I agree, but my opponent is not arguing against using drones themselves here, he is arguing against the idea of killing combatants who attempt to surrender. He has provided zero evidence as to how often this happens or if it even happens at all, with respect to drones.

Again, it is true that an aerial drone cannot accept the immediate surrender of a combatant, but neither can a conventional aircraft. The difference is that an aerial drone can actually see that a combatant has attempted to surrender, and potentially could monitor a surrendered combatant until troops arrive to detain him. A conventional aircraft could not achieve this outcome.

In the past, attempting to surrender to an oncoming bomber jet would be a fruitless endeavor – as it would never see you – and you would be blown up anyway. Today, with military drones, there is the possibility that the military can now observe combatants who attempt to surrender and choose to alter their course of action appropriately – potentially improving the morality of war and decreasing unethical casualties.[1]


Rebuttal to :: Assassination by drone

My opponent argues that troops could attempt to apprehend targets instead of striking, but often such courses of action are not available or would be extremely costly to human lives.

Similar arguments for capture could be made in every type of missile strike, but often these attempts would not be feasible. Troops may not be available in the area, allied lives may be lost if such a capture were attempted, and the targets would often die resisting. Consider U.S. Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia which had the purpose of capturing a Somali warlord, but ultimately failed and cost thousands of civilian lives.[2]

One could argue that we should capture enemy combatants in every possible war scenario but the costs to human life in attempting that goal is simply too great.


Rebuttal to :: Drones push us in many more wars than we want, harm foreign relations, and are costly

My opponent says the low cost of drones removes an important deterrent to war. He points to the use of drone strikes in impoverished countries like Yemen,[3] Somalia[4] and Pakistan[5].

I will not take a position on any particular military policy regarding where to employ drones, because it is not part of this debate. However, to characterize these military activities as war may be misleading, since these governments have given tacit approval for drone strikes by the U.S., zero U.S. troops have died in these countries, and only a couple hundred enemy militants have died in the last year.[6][7]

Drones offer a minimally violent method of neutralizing threats and potentially avoiding the need for broader military deployment. Countries like Somalia lack a stable government and are a haven for terrorist operations and camps.[8] These operations must be disrupted and conventional measures like sanctions and diplomacy are ineffective against terrorist groups. Because the Somali government is practically nonexistent and incapable of assisting, allied nations must take their own steps.

Prior to drones, the U.S. government would be required to deploy boots-on-the-ground to disrupt these problems –such as Somali Operation Gothic Serpent where thousands of civilian died. Now, with the availability of drones, these threats can be disrupted effectively, saving civilian lives, and without the need to send troops.[9]

There is simply no evidence that drones have or will push us into costly, large-scale wars. However, there is good evidence to think that drones might actually prevent the need for broad-scale military deployment.

Further, this argument has no relation to attack drones in combat zones like Afghanistan, nor is it an argument against the many other types of drones used by the military for non-combat purposes.


Rebuttal to :: We are under no military threat

My opponent is correct that first world nations are not under threat of attack from Yemen or Afghanistan, but neither are we at war with them. The drones in Afghanistan and Yemen are used to attack terrorist organizations being harbored within those countries, and not to attack the countries themselves.

My opponent states that these countries are crippled and poor, and that our attack on them is abhorrent as a result. But, it is exactly because these countries are so poor and impotent that the U.S. must take action to quell the terrorist groups that grow and hide within their borders, simply because these countries cannot do it themselves.[9]


Conclusion

As you will notice, my opponent’s arguments solely address attack drones and do not address any other type of drone.

He does not present any argument as to why non-combat drones – such as those used for surveillance, reconnaissance, house clearing, soldier recovery, decoys, mobile communications, and explosives detection and triggering – should not be used by the military.

Further, he has not shown why attack drones are any different than manned aircraft – with respect to distinguishing targets and accepting enemy surrender. And, I have shown that drones offer a greater ability to discern the correct targets and the potential to divert attacks when an enemy surrenders, something not available with conventional pilots.

Because of their many tactical advantages and the lives that are susequently saved, drones should be used by the military.


Sources

[1] http://tinyurl.com...

[2] http://tinyurl.com...

[3] http://tinyurl.com...

[4] http://tinyurl.com...

[5] http://tinyurl.com...

[6] http://tinyurl.com...

[7] http://tinyurl.com...

[8] http://tinyurl.com...

[9] http://tinyurl.com...

Stephen_Hawkins

Con

I want to thank my opponent for his response, and look forward to another engaging round of debating.

What are we talking about?

The statement "This house supports X" means "X should be policy", or "X is justified". So when we debate "The use of drones by the military is justified", we are debating the resolution. A reasonable interpretation of the resolution is "The military's use of drones is justified", or how "this house supports how the drones by the military are used". One can easily interpret the resolution to be more general to mean the military being able to use drones, however it is clear the implication is not to debate whether the military should be allowed to use RC Racers, or other hypotheticals which don't pertain to reality. So I agree with my opponent that we are debating both in military strikes and in non-combat purposes - if we have reason to believe the military's use of drones is unjustified, then we have reason to reject the resolution.

Of course, this is within reason: picking faults at mistakes does not underpin, nor should it underpin, my case. I pick fault with the philosophy of the use of military drones. If the case for the military use of drones does not fulfil its burden, then we clearly have no reason to accept the motion.

I'll spend this round rebutting my opponent's case. I'll focus on his primary two arguments first. Regarding case on whether drones reduce non-target casualties, I've already responded to this in my formation of argument - drone warfare classifies civilians as targets - yet my opponent does not respond. Regarding drones' ability to obtain data, this is massively overstated. As already stated, their ability to recognise targets is abysmal, excluding the Raven (which, as it is used when in sight, does not classify as a UAV[1]). The quality of all visuals is useless[2] as we can observe for ourselves. The advantage of real-time information is irrelevant: modern comms systems means we are constantly in contact with troops if needs be, for less cost. Is the proposition seriously going to contend that we should construct cumbersome morally dubious-at-best drones when we can use talksets instead?

Onto my own arguments:

Clash Point One - Drones are as bad as planes or missiles.

I feel the first thing, and in fact only thing to say here is that all my opponent shows is that my case includes an opposition to using just planes and aerial vehicles to wage wars. My points apply to air-only fighting as well. I accept this as a fiat, though it certainly is not a criticism that needs rebutting. My opponent's rebuttal to the distinguishing problem is wholly assuming I support the use of planes-only when waging war, which my case does not. Further, my opponent's rebuttal to the international law problem is the same: I accept that my plan does not like the use of jetplanes to bomb civilian targets. And my opponent's point on the assassination of civilains by missiles is equally abhorrent: my case rejects both.

As such, my cases of the assassination by drone argument, the international law argument and the bystander problem argument remain intact.

Clash Point Two - Drones push us into wars

My opponent first says he "will not take a position on any particular military policy regarding where to employ drones, because it is not part of this debate". However, this was my major contention. The ability to use cheap drones to fight makes drones popularly used in other nations to fight and attack targets, without declaring war. This is a direct result of the ability to use drones to fight. There have been no such "tacit approvals" in neither Yemen nor Somalia, and Pakistan on numerous occasions have publicly denounced the use of drones in their country - the article, found in the opinion section of the newpaper, derives its facts solely from an interpretation of a man walking away from a meeting with the US smiling - the phrase "making mountains out of molehills" does not do justice. My argument is this: drones, by their intrinsic nature of being able to be used by a government, make wars spring up around and in our nations without the approval of the people. Their nature causes undemocratically elected wars to arise (and the fact that only a few hundred families are ruined by the arbitrary death of a member of the family is no defence) and subvert the right of the people to choose what wars the government fight in.

The evidence is clear: not only have I given three cases of many where drones are used, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, (notice Yemen is not addressed by my opponent, the key example of my case) to cull human beings, but the rational reason for the cause. Focusing purely on evidence is short-sighted: we cannot allow something to go on because it hasn't been shown to be false - we have to show it to be beneficial in theory first. And, both in practice and in theory, drones cause wars.

My opponents other defence, however, is to say we are not at war with Yemen and Afghanistan. My opponent certainly has a strange idea of war: if we send our military equipment in their nation to attack members of their population without consent of their government, I am pretty sure this is war. Let's admit it: The United States is at war with Yemen[3].


Clash Point Three: Pacifism is preferable

I am not sure if my opponent addressed these issues, so I will restate them here. Pacifism is preferable for a cumulative case: for one, the short term costs of war are astronomically high. For another, the long term effects are extremely uncertain, and can cause massive problems that we don't foresee - for example, a view of America intervening repeatedly can easily feasibly create an image of "world police" and cause people to rebel against the nation's grasp. Or the war can be lost through being overstretched and a serious economic problem emerges. Or China takes action against the US due to the new government. The long-term effects are unknowable. War itself becomes massively costly for no certain rewards. With these two things in account, a pacifist policy is most reasonable for large nations like the US.

Conclusion

Though in this round I have split the case in three sections, there are numerous argues at work against the current philosophy regarding the use of drones by the military. The military entity has numerous flaws in its case, and I believed I have shown them. Drones circumvent international law and morality, they are used to assassinate civilians and targets without discrimination, and cause bystanders to be killed with no difficulty. Drones are impractical, causing resentment among foreign powers for infringing on their national sovereignty and the individual sovereingty of its people, as well as breed resentment among the populace of a nation using them, for nations use them to wage secret wars without approval or even discussion with the people, circumventing democracy. Drones are used to fight nations who cannot protect themself from their power, forcing nations to sacrifice their national sovereignty and ruin the countries. Finally, the entire war mentality is nonsensical and unjustified. With this in mind, I hand the debate back over to PRO for his concluding remarks. Thank you.


1 - http://blogs.scientificamerican.com...
2 - http://tinyurl.com...;
3 - http://www.wired.com...;
Debate Round No. 3
GreenTeas

Pro

In this final round, I submit my last rebuttal and summarize my previous arguments. Thanks to my opponent for an enjoyable debate.

1. Rebuttal to :: Drones are as bad as planes or missiles

In the previous round, I noted the similarities of conventional aircraft and drones. I pointed out that my opponent’s concerns about drones could also be applied to conventional aircraft.

In response, my opponent agrees that his case against drones applies equally to jet planes. So you must ask the question, do you support the use of conventional aircraft by the military to target enemy combatants? And, remember, these activities are occurring with the consent of these foreign governments, and, as you will see, have empirical support as an effective military tactic.

Are civilians being classified as targets?

My opponent argues that drone warfare classifies civilians as targets, creating the illusion that fewer civilians are actually dying. Indeed, this was alleged against the CIA.

However, the statistics that I provided do not come from the CIA. The data and casualty rates that I provided in my previous round come from three independent organizations: the (1) New American Foundation, (2) the Long War Journal, and (3) the UMass Drone database, which base their data of civilian casualties on well-reputed news sources like the NY Times, London Times, and local Pakistani sources, and do not rely on the CIA’s data.[1]

We can have a high confidence level that the rate of civilian deaths from drones is actually low and not due to data manipulation.

2. Rebuttal to :: Drones push us into wars

My opponent states that one of his “major contentions” in this debate relates to the allegedly unjust use of drones in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. He claims there has been no approval of the United States’ use of drones in these countries. I reject my opponent’s claims below.

Yemeni Government Supports Drone Strikes

On January 8, 2013, Yemen’s national security chief stated the “Yemeni-American cooperation” which includes the use of “US drone strikes against Al-Qaeda targets will continue as the two governments keep up their counter-terrorism cooperation.”[2]

This is explicit approval for drone strikes from Yemen’s highest ranking security official.

Somali Government Supports Drone Strikes

In 2011, the United States began drone strikes originating from an airport in Mogadishu, Somalia – the country’s capital.[3]

Somali deputy defense minister Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig stated that the U.S drone airstrikes “will continue until we minimize the enemy from our country.”[3] Somali army spokesman Mohamed Faarah Dirie stated that the U.S. “drone strikes are part of operations to target al-Shabab fighters.”[4]

This is explicit approval for U.S. drones strikes from Somalia’s highest ranking defense official and Somalia’s army spokesman.

Pakistani Government Supports Drone Strikes

Pakistan has permitted the CIA to use a Pakistani airport to launch drone strikes.[5] And, Pakistan’s chief of army staff General Ashfaq Kayan has asked U.S Forces for increased drone surveillance and coverage over Taliban-controlled regions of Pakistan.[6]

These actions, among others by the Pakistani government and its officials, indicate approval of U.S. drone strikes, even if they may publicly deny their approval for political purposes.

Thus, despite my opponent’s claims, two of the countries gave explicit approval of the drone strikes, and the third gives clear approval through its actions.

Drone Strikes are Effective

My opponent claims that drone strikes are not effective and should not be used. However, there is strong evidence to believe that drone strikes are a reasonable tactic.

The purpose of drone strikes is to cripple and disrupt terrorist groups. One study from Harvard-MIT has shown that eliminating leaders of terrorist groups causes the group to disappear at a much faster rate and is an effective counterterrorism strategy.[7]Further, religious terrorist groups like al Qaeda, are more susceptible to leadership decapitation than other types of groups, making military tactics like drone strikes even more effective.[7]

A second study found that eliminating terrorist group leaders created a 30 percent increased likelihood the group would terminate, as well as a 30 percent boost in the probability that the regional government would emerge victorious over the terrorist group.[8]

Thus, targeting leaders of terrorist groups is an effective way to disrupt these groups and their activities. This is a justified, effective military approach that is approved by the governments of the countries in which it is being employed.

3. Rebuttal to :: Pacificism is preferable

Non-military approaches may be preferable to using force, if the former is possible. However, when dealing with terrorist organizations that are harbored within countries that are incapable of removing these groups, there are few non-military ways to address these groups – and often none. Terrorist groups, unlike nation-states, are not subject to diplomacy. Pacifism will only allow these groups to take root and grow, an unacceptable outcome.

Often, military force is necessary. If drones didn’t exist, the U.S. would be required to deploy conventional missile strikes or deploy troops to remove these groups. Both of these cumbersome alternatives – as history teaches us – would be more costly than drones from both a monetary and a moral standpoint.


Summary of Arguments for the Use of Military Drones [See Round Two for Full Arguments]

1. Drones provide real-time information that could not be obtained by other means

Drones allow the military to acquire real-time information about enemy activities and terrain that could not otherwise be acquired in a fast-changing environment – information that aids tactical choices and improves civilian and allied safety.

My opponent attacks the “quality” of the visuals, but it is not the “quality” that is important. Drones allow the military acquire information about areas that could not be observed through conventional means – such as within structures or beyond the frontline – without placing troops in danger.

2. Drones reduce civilian and non-target casualties

Because of improved surveillance and precision, drone strikes have extremely low civilian casualty rates when compared to conventional military tactics. These casualty rates have continued to improve over time, to as low as 1 percent in 2012. These low civilian casualty rates make drone strikes a more ethical tactic than previously employed approaches like conventional missile strikes and troop deployment.

3. Drones reduce soldier casualties

Drones have the important advantage of keeping soldiers out of harm’s way. Soldiers can employ drones to detect and defuse bombs, investigate buildings, survey perimeters and enemy territory, rescue endangered soldiers, engage enemy combatants, and a multitude of other uses – all without having to place a soldier in a dangerous situation.

Drones allow soldiers to accomplish their missions without personally stepping into potential harm, a clear benefit in saving lives.

Conclusion

My opponent has admitted that drones are functionally the same as conventional aircraft – with respect to their limitations. Further, I have shown that drones are used in countries where the government has given approval, and that drone strikes targeting group leaders are a proven and effective tactic for disrupting terrorist groups.

I have also demonstrated the many advantages of drones. Specifically, drones can gather otherwise unobtainable information that aids and protects the military and civilians, and drone strikes reduce civilian casualties compared to conventional military approaches.

This house supports the use of drones by the military.

Sources

[1] http://tinyurl.com...

[2] http://tinyurl.com...

[3] http://tinyurl.com...

[4] http://tinyurl.com...

[5] http://tinyurl.com...

[6] http://tinyurl.com...

[7] http://tinyurl.com...

[8] http://tinyurl.com...

Stephen_Hawkins

Con

Firstly, before everything, I'd like to thank my opponent for the debate. I'll try summing up my side of the debate, and how each argument has gone.

Planes-Drones Question

My point originally was three: the bystander problem, where bystanders are made targets, the international law argument, where drones break international law, and the assassination argument, where drones are used to assassinate others, circumventing the right to trial, was rebutted by claiming this is true for planes as well. This is the full rebuttal - planes also suffer this problem. Firstly, planes suffer this problem when used on their own, without additional support. For example, in Libya, planes were used on their own and it was as such not classified as a war. Second, and most importantly, this is not a rebuttal. Though my opponent claims he is right because he likes conventional aircraft, that is not a rebuttal. In the UK, we like a coherent rational case for something, not simply resting on intuitionist pleas. I hope this is the same where you are from. Saying other nations like them being used is comical at best - are we to say Gadaffi "consent[ed] to these foreign governments"? Moreover, the empirical support is irrelevant: it's empirically true that biological and chemical warfare is extremely useful. The moral imperative was to ban these weapons, as we should drones, because of the dangers to any justice when they aer used.

If we do agree that the planes-drone question isn't an effective rebuttal, we have to concede that drones makes bystanders targets, break international law and are used to assassinate targets, each independently strong arguments against the use of drones.

Civilian Targets

I claim that the statistics registered by the CIA on what makes a target is morally abhorrent and simply false labelling. My opponent in the final round has disputed this. However, his source is simply a red herring: my claim was the definition of a target - "all military-age males in a strike zone" - combined with the terrible camera ability of drones to distinguish even gender - means that any drone strike killing a target more than 5 feet high is going to class as a militant death. His source does not in any way address this. His second argument rests on this being false, yet clearly it is not.

Drones push us into wars

My opponent entirely misses the point of this contention. I contend drones are pushing us into wars without the acceptance of our people. There has been no debate in Congress before sending drones in Yemen, for example. They were simply sent. This breaks US legislation - The War Powers Resolution - as well as the general principles of democracy when one can start a war without the approval of its people. Drones makes war excessively easy, and the evidence clearly points to how drones circumvent our right to decide what happens, and as such we should oppose drone warfare.


Are drones effective?

Firstly, this is, as my entire case has been determined to show, a sidenote, as the use of drones is immoral in the extreme. However, many of the claims of my opponent are simply patently false. Killing terrorist leaders has been known for a very long time not to work[2] - you kill one and another two pop up twelve hours later. Targetting killings don't stop groups[3] but instead makes them more likely to attack again. All this we already know. There is no rebuttal here in the final round that drones are ruining foreign relations - drones are crushing our foreign relations and breed more radical militants. Thanks to drones, for every radical militant killed another joins the islamist cause. They are not just abhorrent, but are failures even when measuring efficiency.

Pacifism is preferable

My opponent's response to this is the same as his rebuttal to the planes-drones issue. I gave two explicit reasons for pacifism - in the short-term war is massively expensive and in the long term it is unpredictable - but neither of these points have even been touched on. Again, it's a case of "I like war, so let's keep war". The mention of "as history teaches us" is irrelevant - history teaches us that war destroys countries, and it is never really certain which one. War, in the words of the famous song, what is it really good for? Absolute nothing.

Drones don't provide any unique information

My opponent hasn't really given any example where drones give unique useful information that cannot be gained by other means. Headcams and talksets give the same information, and is cheaper - both financially and morally. He concedes the quality of the visuals is abysmal, even if he does not think this is relevant. I see no reason to not see it as relevant, though. If I bought a camera, and noticed I could only make out blurry shapes from it, I'd be entirely in reason to complain. If the person I bought it from said "that's not important", I'd be right to tell him he's wrong. The same is true here.

I do concede, and never did dispute, drones reduce soldier casualties (though indirectly, by creating more militia, causes more). The amount of lives it reduces though is negligible - something like a dozen lives - and the civilian deaths, even by my opponent's statistics, is larger than the lives saved. More innocents die through drones than soldiers saved, who sign up for war.

Conclusion

I have attempted to demonstrate both drones are morally abhorrent, flies in the face of democracy, and war itself is wrong. These three factors are the most important, and if either three are true then the resolution is negated - my opponent has at no point disputed morality has a place in war. Though it is not relevant to my case, I believe I have shown at the very least the efficiency of drones is negligible, and they are not the divine gift my opponent makes them out to be. My case has been the moral abhorrence of drones is what is important, and as such we have an obligation to go against the resolution.

This house rejects the use of drones by the military.

1 - http://tinyurl.com...
2 - http://tinyurl.com...
Debate Round No. 4
52 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
Double post :(
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
Roy, your claim makes no sense. When someone says something, we should assume the assumptions are true? Of course not: if an argument is false because it rests on a false assumption, then claiming the assumption is false is perfectly valid. You claimed that this argument is intrinsically false because of this, yet don't provide any reason why other than we have to assume the assumption. Which is forcing laws on debating which is specifically against the pedagogy aspect of debating, as well as hypocritical, as you've said "DDO should avoid such nonsense", make the debate real, not academic. I have no problem with people not being convinced by an argument, but formulation of arguments is the equivalent of mathematics: someone is wrong.

@Elder, there's something in situation ethics (though I don't abide by it, most have this principle - I cannot think of a moral position that does not) called "pragmatism", meaning something is not immoral if it cannot happen. I'd say it's reasonable. You can't be held accountable for deaths in Peru as you can't stop them.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
Roy, your claim makes no sense. When someone says something, we should assume the assumptions are true? Of course not: if an argument is false because it rests on a false assumption, then claiming the assumption is false is perfectly valid. You claimed that this argument is intrinsically false because of this, yet don't provide any reason why other than we have to assume the assumption. Which is forcing laws on debating which is specifically against the pedagogy aspect of debating, as well as hypocritical, as you've said "DDO should avoid such nonsense", make the debate real, not academic. I have no problem with people not being convinced by an argument, but formulation of arguments is the equivalent of mathematics: someone is wrong.

@Elder, there's something in situation ethics (though I don't abide by it, most have this principle - I cannot think of a moral position that does not) called "pragmatism", meaning something is not immoral if it cannot happen. I'd say it's reasonable. You can't be held accountable for deaths in Peru as you can't stop them.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
"Also, and you seem to still ignore me on this, "dropping the issue for something largest" is a KRITIK and is very well known to be a part of debating. Saying it is not oise like saying counterplans or impacts are not part of debating."

Right, you used it, so for that reason alone it is part of debating. Every debate society in the world can endorse it four times, and that would neither respond to my argument against it nor change my opinion. My point is that language necessarily contains implicit assumptions. When someone proposes a debate challenge, we have to decide what the resolution means. If the resolution is genuinely ambiguous, then there is valid semantic argument. However, if the resolution is abundantly clear, then refusing to debate the meaning intended is unresponsive.

The point of deliberately changing the resolution is get a win by moving the debate to a subject that the instigator did not prepare to debate, and the more absurd the better. So if the resolution is "0.9999... = 1," then attack the foundations of mathematics as a logical system. If the resolution is "Cats are better than dogs" then attack the method by which cats are classified as a species. It mocks the concept of legitimate debate in favor of being a lawyer game.
Posted by TheElderScroll 4 years ago
TheElderScroll
Hypothetical case: http://debate.org...
This is one of the debates discussing the use of torture. Pro offers three hypothetical cases to justify the use. Torture is wrong (immoral), yet it may be permissible (useful).

Real Case: I am attempting to find a case that both of us can agree upon.
I would say the Roman Senate made an immoral decision to bestow the honor of Emperor on Augustus, yet the necessity/reality dictated that it had to be done to avoid the dangers of another civil war and to ensure the domestic tranquillity.

As for War
Sometimes, not having a war may lead to more problems than having a war. Without declaring a war on terrorism, more innocent people will die. I don't believe you would suggest the U.S. & NATO to make a peace with terrorism or any countries that allegedly support terrorism.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
How do you balance something that is wrong with something that is useful? Doing something immoral is wrong. That's simply tautological.

Moreover, I'm still not convinced in any way that PRO said even in the slightest that war is more utilitous than peace.
Posted by TheElderScroll 4 years ago
TheElderScroll
@Stephen_Hawkins
Nay. It is all about "balance." Which one (morality or utility) is more important? It depends.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
I don't know how many people would say to it is better to be immoral and efficient at being so, but whatever :-)
Posted by TheElderScroll 4 years ago
TheElderScroll
@Hawkins:
Perhaps we do read the same arguments in a distinctive different light. (Debate is no mathematics after all).

"Who made more convincing arguments?" Well, that's a very tough question. Both Pro and you made many numerous contentions/arguments in support of your conclusions respectively. When I said"he/you convinced me", it would mean in comparison between Pro's contentions and yours, Pro's arguments/yours are more reasonable. The evaluation of overall debate would be the sum of each specific "reasonable argument."

I believe Pro successfully showed that the advantage that one may obtain from the use of Drones (Intel & reduction in causality) outweighed the disadvantages associated with it (moral issue & collateral damage), thereby affirming the resolution.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
Also, ElderScroll, your voting confuses me. The 3 points is: "Who made more convincing arguments" because if we go with "he convinced me", then the winner comes down a massive amount to "who did I agree with". I think we'd both agree this would be a serious setback for debating.

I'll relent on the point though, seeing as I don't think I'll be able to convince you that the rebuttal by PRO was inexistent. Personally, I require when judging very explicit rebuttals (as in I don't need to continue an argument for myself, which is why I reject enthymemes as valid 90% of the time in debating) and so I'll just put this down to a difference in how we evaluate debates.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by TheElderScroll 4 years ago
TheElderScroll
GreenTeasStephen_HawkinsTied
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Reasons for voting decision: A very informative debate. Pro earned my vote for the following reasons: Pro, in my opinion, convincingly showed that "Drones provide real-time information that could not be obtained by other means." Moreover, he also successfully argued that "Reduced Soldier Casualty and Improved Safety." I was ambivalent on the point "Drones reduce civilian and non-target casualties" as both sides offered solid evidence to support their own cases. Con attempted to refute Pro's contentions on the basis of morality (International Law and human rights) and the utility/irrationality of the War. However, con did not adequately prove that Drones were significantly different from other conventional weapons, neither did he sufficiently argue that Pacifism was a preferable option under the current circumstance. (terrorist groups, unlike nation-states, are not subject to diplomacy). Drones employed in modern warfare could add a considerable weight to the moderation of the countries (diplomacy).
Vote Placed by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro pointed out advantages of using drones. Con came out against all war, which argument was neither persuasive nor on point, since some military drones can be used for surveillance, like to tell us when to take cover if we were about to be attacked because we'd become pacifists.
Vote Placed by Deadlykris 4 years ago
Deadlykris
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Reasons for voting decision: Con seemed to miss the point, and argued that all military actions are war. But Pro rightly asserted that not all military actions are war, only those which are in opposition to another nation's government. As the nations in which these drones are being used are cooperative with the efforts, and their governments supportive, I cannot define these military actions as war.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
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Reasons for voting decision: To affirm "use of drones" Pro had to show that that drones could be used morally and effectively, and that the potential for error is no greater than non-drone warfare. Pro did that by example, and by pointing out that error was no greater than with using conventional aircraft. Pro accomplished that, so Con had to try to make the debate about pacifism and "all weapons are bad." That's probably the best that could be done to oppose, but it's really a different debate. "Use by the military" has the implicit premise that the military exists. Pro's sources supported the contention of moral and effective use, whereas Con's only showed possible error and why there might be situations where use was unwise, points granted by Pro. Con did not answer use of drones for recon and bomb disposal.
Vote Placed by likespeace 4 years ago
likespeace
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Reasons for voting decision: Con raised the question whether a policy of assassination with drones is in the short-term or long-term best interst of America. First, he showed that the classifier for determining there were few civilian casualites was biased. Pro did not contest this, but rather asserted the accuracy of those reports (using the biased classifier). Con then followed-up by explaining that killing civilians and surrendering soldiers has long-term consequences for our country, in terms of people who will want to destroy us. Pro counters that this assassination policy predated drones (e.g., cruise missiles). Con responds that those actions were also problematic. Overall, I felt Con controlled the debate, and has led me to question whether these miracle devices (no soldier casualties, low civilian casualties) are really so brilliant.
Vote Placed by Raisor 4 years ago
Raisor
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Reasons for voting decision: Though this was a quality debate, I think it is a clear win for con. Pacifism was i adequately addressed by pro. Pro never disputed cons very well argued interpretation of the Rez, so proving targeted strikes bad can win the round. I think pro is on the right track with the planes analogy but con just bites th bullet and points out that pro hasn't really explained why planes are a problem for cons argument. I though con ran a good strategy overall, though some more development on the pacifism case would have been good.