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Using Drones instead of foot Soldiers

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/6/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,197 times Debate No: 13289
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (5)




Since the war over seas has been going on for years as most of us know, and we have gotten about 80+ drone kills in a week, wouldnt it be alot easier to send drones to take out insergens instead of foot soldiers? it would lessen the K.I.A count for or young men and women over seas, yes it would cost alot of money but wouldnt it be easier to spend a bit of money to take care of the enemy?


I'd like to welcome my opponent to this site. My overall argument is that drones should not be used in favor of foot soldiers. I'll try to avoid all references to the Terminator along the way.

Quick definitions:
Drone - unmanned aircraft owned by the United States
Insurgent - anybody deemed by the United States to be an "insurgent"
I am limiting this debate to the United States because no other country uses drones as much as they do (so far as we know)

To justify this case, I will present four main contentions. To win this debate, my opponent needs to show that each of these four contentions is false, and that there is at least one good reason why drones are superior to foot soldiers.

1) They are prone to failing. Osama Bin Laden stated that the main reason he was able to hold his position at Tora Bora was because drones do not target underground, which is where his fighters were hiding. Drones are highly likely to crash, costing millions of dollars [1]. They are also ineffective at killing those whom they are designed to kill - on average for every one militant killed, so are at least ten civilians [2]. On another occasion, a counter-insurgency adviser to General David Petraeus said that about 98% of the deaths were civilians [3]. This is because drone pilots are more likely to ignore civilians, children and innocents when carrying out their operations, as they don't need to deal with it themselves [4]. These pilots also tend to see the situation more as a video game [5] and have less collective morale [6]. The point is that the war is not without cost, it is simply that it is another race of people we are shifting the cost on to (Pakistanis, Iraqis) although they don't deserve it (as Peter Singer demonstrates in his excellent book "Wired for War").

2) The United States needs the cooperation of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq to carry out their operations successfully - otherwise the entire country will decide to start hating the United States and thus become insurgents. These are largely tribal countries, where bravery is an important virtue. The cowardice of drone strikes, coupled with the large civilian killings, breeds public disgust. Therefore using drones exclusively will not solve the problem of terrorism, rather make it worse[7]. Further, surgical precise killings of a few critical positions, as drones offer, do not actually harm the movement at all. New leaders simply come along. The problem is the supply lines, and these cannot be dealt with from the air - ground personnel are needed! Remember what happened after we killed al-Zarqawi in 2006 [8]?

3) The lack of percieved risk may cause certain governments to start wars more frequently [6]. Using drones often will make it seem like you don't need to risk people's lives to go to war - and thus governments will attempt to impose their will on others whenever they want. God help me if New Zealand is caught in the crossfire! Actually lives will be lost, whether it be in the aggressor's country or the defender's. Who knows - maybe enemy drones would prove more effective than yours.

4) Their legality is, at best, questionable [9]. They appear to ignore the Geneva convention as they do not differentiate between civilians and soldiers. There is no specific law allowing their use in warfare.

When the CIA tried to kill Baitullah Mehsud using drones, the drones took the lives of between 207 and 321 civilians before, fourteen months and two plane crashes later, Mehsud was found and killed. Properly trained and equipped, an elite unit would have been able to achieve the same effect without the civilian casualties and at a lower cost. I'm all for not risking lives in battle, but drones take more lives than ground fighting. They're a dangerous precedent, they won't work and they're illegal. That's why I'm proud to be opposing the motion.

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Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for the welcome.

1)Yes drones aren't able to aim underground, and yes they aren't very accurate. But concerning Osama Bin Laden we can use the drones to weed him out of his hiding spots, they may not be able to aim underground but they cant destroy the entrances to his underground lairs. Yes there is a high possibility that the civilians will be killed, but there is also a possibility that the civilians themselves will become insurgents. As for the pilots, they cant hit every target intended, yes there will be civilian casualties, but there are always civilian casualties. There are alot less casualties when there are foot soldiers deployed, but it will all melt down to doing whatever it takes to win. The cost will be substantially higher, but we can still use drones to weed out the insurgents from their underground lairs.

2)The Pakistani, Afghani, and Iranian militarys are working with us, maybe not to their fullest ability. Bravery is an important virtue, but its either being cowardly or sending people home in body bags or caskets. As for killing innocents with drone strikes and being cowardly think of how many innocents the terrorists have killed with their suicide bombings. I am not saying that ground units are not needed we should simply deploy more drones than ground units. I myself cannot recall what had happened after we had kill al-Zarqawi but I do agree with you that new leaders will simply arise one after another, unless we can weed out all of the forces into one territory in which they hold up.

3)War as we all know is part of human nature, we cant prevent every single war that goes on in this world, we are how ever the power house of the world if I am not mistaken. There have been wars and/or battles that we have lost and we will not win every war that we are involved with. Their are governments who do impose their will on others in this world and nobody can say that there aren't any. Even if New Zealand wasn't caught in the crossfire lives will be lost either way.

4)The drones themselves are not to be held at fault, their pilots should be held at fault, or even their commanding officer for giving them the coordinates or location at which to do the attack. If un-manned weapons do infact conflict with the Geneva convention then the Atomic Warhead we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Drones are not meant to be used by everyone who can get their hands on them and when they do it will cause civilian deaths. Baitullah Mehsud may have had drones, but I do not believe he knew how to use them properly. I do agree that they do take more lives than ground fighting, and they are dangerous, but they will save countless American lives. They do work, but they must be used by people who know what to do to get their job done.


I'll keep this one short. Since my opponent has no sources to back up his claims I won't give him the benefit of listing mine either.

1) My opponent focuses on the American lives saved, but admits higher casualties. Why does he suppose an American life is more important than any other race's life? Of course they might become insurgents, but so could anyone else, so by my opponent's logic we should kill the entire planet to wipe out insurgency. Further, my opponent fails to relize that one can conceal the entrance to an underground lair, thus thwarting the visual sensors of the drones. My opponent will never win the war on terror by this plan - if civilians become more bombed, more people hate United States, more people join Al Qaeda, simple as that! And you won't even be able to kill Al Qaeda because Al Qaeda knows where to hide, so really you'll just be doing free recruitment for Al Qaeda at a higher cost than it would to get rid of them, as foot soldiers have a proven history of doing.

2) When a terrorist does a suicide bombing, that is not cowardice, that is the ultimate bravery (or so it is percieved) because one has the courage to take up Jihad against the most powerful nation on Earth. If you do not show bravery in your fight, people in Iraq, Afghanistan etc will become angry at you, quit the army that NATO has created in these places and join the Taliban movement. Also, just to remind my opponent, the four years after the States killed al-Zarqawi were the deadliest for troops from that country, and all the martyr videos said the deaths were retribution for al-Zarqawi's death. Finally, my opponent thinks that by conquering all Al Qaeda territory he will conquer Al Qaeda. Not at all. Al Qaeda is a worldwide network, operating in many countries - from Australia to the United States to Uganda (though luckily not my native New Zealand). Osama himself has stated he is not to be found there, but "amongst the Muslim masses."

3) Every war is preventable. Take this one in Iraq. Solution - don't invade Iraq (who were clearly not more of a security threat than, say, Israel). Or the one in Afghanistan. Solution - stop the weapons trade with Israel (Al Qaeda has stated that if this happens, they will bring their leaders to the negotiating table). I challenge my opponent to cite a single inevitable war. If we could stop the Cold War from heating, we can stop any war. But this wasn't even my point! The United States, regardless of whether they are the strongest nation in the world or not, has no more right to start wars than any other country. This is guaranteed by international treaties that the United States has ratified. Future governments may begin to start wars at a whim if no human risk is involved. I'm sure my opponent can think where this is leading, three superpowers or so conquer Earth and the book "1984" by George Orwell plays out exactly.

4) OK, so we hold the pilots to account, or more accurately, those who failed to give them training in how to recognize the difference between a civilian and a soldier (which is impossible using a drone, meaning any use of a drone should result in prosecution). What difference does it make? It's still illegal. Hiroshima and Nagasaki was before the Geneva convention, which was written after World War 2 to prevent things like Hiroshima or NAZI war crimes from happening again. Like most laws it's not retrospective, so the bomber pilots have immunity.

My opponent looks only to saving the lives of Americans whose job it is to put their life on the line for their country. What about innocents in far away lands who only wish to live in peace? Like I said, at least 207 of these people died in an attempt to kill just one Taliban leader using drones. More civilians died in just this one campaign than US soldiers died in all US campaigns over that whole year. If my opponent thinks he knows better than the CIA on piloting drones, I suggest he tries to tell that to them, not me. Drones are prone to failing and crashing, as well as misidentifying targets, not hitting underground targets, recruiting terrorists, proving United States cowardice, breaking the law and promoting a 1984-style world. If drones were people I think the whole world would unanimously call for their death sentence.

Actually I should start a chant: "Death to the Drones! Con! Con! Con!"
Debate Round No. 2


I am at fault for not listing my sources(didnt really think about it at the time)... But being as this is my first debate ever i will learn from my mistakes as everyone does.

1)In my previous statements I had never said an american life is more important than any other races life, America is made up of many different races even from the countrys we are at war with. The entire planet will be taken care of as time progresses on. Yes, an entrance to a lair can be concealed, but if the drone has been deployed that must mean that the coordinates of the lair have been discovered in which case the entrance to the lair would be destroyed. As for civilians being bombed, the insurgents bomb their own people when they are attacking our units in their cities, so Al Qaeda should be making their own people hate them. Back tracking a bit, heres a quote referring to Larz's first statment "God help me if New Zealand is caught in the crossfire! Actually lives will be lost, whether it be in the aggressor's country or the defender's." I might be mistaken but it sounds like he thinks that New Zealand's people are more important than anyone elses.

2)A Jihad may be the ultimate bravery in their country, but to others points of view it is cowardly for 1, you cannot say it is brave to destroy part of a building or blow up cars by suprise, it would be brave to show that you arent being secretive, and if they know they are going to die why cover the bombs up? Afghanistan and Iraq are not even members of NATO, yes NATO has a army there, but they are neither members or partners of NATO. NATO has over 28 member countries, they might lose a army, but they have many more to take its place. Here is a quote stating they have the ability to do so " If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military capacity needed to undertake crisis operations. These are carried out under article 5 of the Washington Treaty and/or under a UN mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.". If we conquer all Al Qaeda territorys we would have taken down it's world network, since Al Qaeda IS a worldwide network. His quote you have provided shows that he is a coward, by hiding amongst his own people as he sits back and continues his role as their puppet master.

the quote can be found in the second page of this site
Article 5 can be found here

3)The war that is happening right now was is no way preventable. Bin Laden himself declared war on the americans who were based in Saudi Arabia, the holy land of Islam. When infact we were given PERMISSION to base there by the Saudi Arabian government. We did not declare war on him, he had his own people take over planes in OUR nation and destroyed the Twin Towers, crashed into the Pentagon, and tried to destroy our capital. As for us not being able to declare war on another country, WE have every right to declare war on someone if they attack us first, which we did not attack neither of the countrys we are at war with first.

Osama's Fatwa(Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places)

4)The difference is that their suicide bombers know who is a civilian and who is a soldier and yet they dont think twice about killing their own people to get rid of a few soldiers, while drones aim to take out the enemy, they do NOT purposefully kill innocent civilians especially their own people. So as for prosecutions, lets back track to Vietnam. Manned aircrafts had to level entire citys, civilians and all, are you saying that those patriots should have all been imprisoned for doing what was neccesary to win?

Ask any soldier whether they would live or die and what do you think they would say? Everyone strives to live and will everything in their power to live. If the innocents in far away lands wished for peace they would allow us to do whatever is neccesary to win, so they can have a rightous and just government. As for every U.S campaign deaths I believe more people died in vietnam in one day than the whole iraq war. Drones may fail, crash and misidentify targets, but they do not purposfully kill their own innocents to get their target, unlike the Al Qaeda and Taliban forces, and it is impossible for drones to recruit terrorists as they arent people. The United States arent cowardice for using a different tactic than most other countries.


Argument 1
a) My opponent is happy to kill thousands of innocents overseas to save a handful of American civilians, and yet claims an American life is no more important than any other. More lives are saved by not deploying drones, so again by this logic drones should not be deployed.
b) Drones cannot discover concealment. Underground lairs would never again be discovered and thus perfectly safe. If foot soldiers discover a underground lair, unsurprisingly, Al Qaeda leaves it for another underground lair.
c) When Al Qaeda suicide bombs the cities they bomb civilians who accept Crusader rule and pay taxes that support the Crusader cause ( The Afghani and Iraqi people know about this and are much more sympathetic to something that has a religious ideal behind it than cowardice and mindless revenge for the deaths of 3000 people in the world trade center disaster.
d) About New Zealand's people my opponent is mistaken. We are not more important than you, but we are at peace with you and don't want to have drones flying in our skies. Please leave us alone. The argument is essentially the same as the one for Pakistan, but I'm more thinking of non-combatants in situations where the enemy has drones too, under argument three (where the quote you cite comes from).

Argument 2
a) My opponent accepts Jihad is the ultimate bravery in their country. It's more than that. It's ultimate bravery in Islam. All Muslims worldwide detest drones and would much rather join Jihad. In terms of covering the bombs up, Al Qaeda has dealt with this at length, the point is you can justify it using Islamic doctrine. Non-Muslims might not see Jihad as bravery, but that's not the point. The point is that if we rely on drones, the suicide bombers will be much more able to suicide-bomb, strike much more fear in the population and scare non-Muslims into fighting alongside Muslims in Jihad.
b) NATO trains the Afghani and Iraqi army and police ( ,, so actually they are partners.
c) If we conquer Al Qaeda land, Al Qaeda operates from India or Senegal or England or some other country. The world network of Al Qaeda in no way relies on Afghanistan.
d) Hiding is no dishonorable for Osama because in doing so, he mocks the army that is so desperate to find him. Besides, all the evidence is that he's dead anyway

Argument 3
a) Permission by the Saudis was granted by a government that was being invaded by the United States. The troops were allowed in as the pillaging of people and holy sites would have been much worse. But that's not the primary motivation why Bin Laden is fighting - after all, the US troops moved out of Saudi Arabia in 2003 ( Instead he has been more annoyed by the plight of Muslims in places such as Palestine, and the vulgar evils that permeate Western society. Osama has issued Fatwas against each of these as well.
b) The world trade center bombing was not a declaration of war any more than any of Osama's previous bombings on US embassies and Arab towns. The US had fought him before in Somalia, Sudan and had long declared him a public enemy. So it was more of a reaffirmation of a war that was already happening. Technically I think it was Britain that "attacked" Osama first, after the think-tank he established there was disestablished and Osama put up for arrest, but that topic is at best entirely moot.
c) But no such case can be made for Iraq. The United States declared war on Iraq without any attack from Saddam Hussain's government.

Argument 4
a) Drones may aim to take out the enemy but they're really bad at it, as I have shown. You cannot compare suicide bombers with drones (that's like apples and oranges) - but drones are far less discriminating in their murder than foot soldiers. Both have the same aims, but one is much better at it.
b) I think Vietnam was a mistake, and inhumane. It was not a United States victory as they did not achieve any of their initial ideals. Besides which, patriotism for the sake of patriotism is not a good thing. Therefore I think that imprisoning their generals would be the honorable thing to do.
c) None of this actually engages the point that they're illegal.

Assorted Assertions
a) Everyone wants to live. Most people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan cooperate fully with the United States. They want to live, and don't like it when a drone drops a bomb on their village.
b) You say that the governments put in place by the United States are righteous and just. How do you know this? Who are you to say one form of government is better than any other?
c) "more people died in Vietnam in one day than the whole Iraq war" - only in terms of US soldier deaths. 5 million Iraqi children died during the siege of Baghdad. Were you counting them?
d) "it is impossible for drones to recruit terrorists as they aren't people" - actually yes, they do recruit, because they send out the propaganda message that America is evil, as I justified in round 2. It's like saying a billboard can't recruit soldiers.
e) "The United States aren't cowards" - your opinion does not matter. What matters is the opinion of the people of Iraq, Pakistan and anywhere else the US chooses to invade.

In summary, drones are counter-productive (argument 1), terrorist-recruiting (argument 2), war-inducing (argument 3), Geneva-contravening (argument 4) pieces of rubbish, compared to brave foot soldiers who do a much better job and ought to be commended for it. When a poor Afghani farmer sees some troops march past and give him a little cheery wave, he smiles and knows they are there to look after him, protecting him from the Taliban. When a drone flies overhead and bombs the village next to his, killing all 200 civilians living there, he shakes his head in sadness and curses the US under his breath. In the only major campaign to use drones to target a leader, the costs in terms of human life and money were much higher than foot soldiers would have been, and there was no major effect on the Taliban leadership.

My vision is of an end to the war on terror, with minimal costs and loss of life. My vision is one of cooperation and efficiency. My vision is one of hope, one that is sustainable in terms of precedent and legality. My vision is as powerful as it is simple. My vision is the death of the drone.

At the end of this debate, I ask you, oh voters - do you share that vision?
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by larztheloser 7 years ago
agreed with TPF
Posted by TPF 7 years ago
Anybody with even an inkling of military knowledge knows you have to use more than just drones.
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