By Sam Coates
A contentious point in President Obama’s legacy is the dramatically increased drone activity under his leadership.
Interest in drones increased post 9/11 because of the threat and hysteria surrounding terrorism. The topic of drones has been rarely discussed in the presidential election campaign.
Trump has not referred to drones specifically, but has commented on ISIS of who have often been the targets of drone strikes.
‘I would bomb the Hell out of them.’
More concerning, when considering civilian lives is his comments on the families of ISIS members.
‘The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families’ would imply a more aggressive use of drones.
From Trump’s comments, he seems to have little regard for civilian casualties, whether they are killed by drones or not. Drones have already killed anywhere from 46 to 116 civilians according to the Obama administration according to a report in The Guardian.
However, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism refute these numbers and state that they are only a fraction the 380 to 801 civilian casualties as the result of drones. The Obama administration has substantially increased drone strikes and both Obama and Hillary Clinton have promoted their effectiveness at killing terrorist leaders.
There was already strong support building behind drones during the 2012 U.S. Presidential campaign.
‘There were few issues on which Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and a majority of the U.S. public agreed.’
One exception was the targeted assassination of suspected militants by unmanned aerial vehicles, or ‘drone strikes.’
The public perceptions and history can give insight into the future of drone strikes. As for public perceptions, Hillary is not under pressure to restrict drone strikes.
A poll by the Pew research centre and published in the Huffington post last year indicates that the majority of Americans support US Drone strikes, as the graphic below shows us.
Even if this were not the case Hillary herself does not appear averse to engaging in conflicts and lead the US intervention of Libya. Her inability to apologise for her vote in favour of the Iraq war ultimately did damage to her when she ran against Obama. The after affects of the Libya intervention and the killing of four Americans in Benghazi further damaged her reputation.
In her own words from her book Hard Choices ‘By 2009, dozens of senior terrorists had been taken off the battlefield by drones.’
She further stated that every measure was taken in ensuring that civilian lives where not put at risk and even asserted that most of the reports of civilian casualties have been untrue.
She has yet to give any indication that she has changed her mind since this time.
With Hilary’s past comments about drones it does appear that she would continue with drone strikes if she became President.
Hillary has had a good deal of experience with the application of drones and she is especially unlikely to reduce drones strike when she is under little pressure to do so either politically or from the public.
With Trump in the White House he would certainly have no hesitation in using drones and perhaps other more devastating weapons on any perceived enemies.