Global Politics

Drone Warfare: The Changing Face of US Military Engagement

Drones have become a powerful symbol of US military might abroad, and a focus of anti-American dissent, especially in the south Asian nation of Pakistan.

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Pakistanis increasingly blame the US for civilian casualties caused by drone strikes. And the murky nature of drone warfare has many Pakistanis wondering who exactly are the targets of the attacks.

Rosa Brooks, a fellow at the New America Foundation, and Christine Fair of Georgetown University argue that the US government should be more transparent about its drone program in Pakistan.

"As we have seen in recent weeks over the riots in Libya and elsewhere, perception can matter as much as reality," says Brooks. "Particularly when we're talking about a program that remains largely covert and unacknowledged, the perceptions of the program not just in Pakistan but globally, including in allied nations, can hurt us quite badly."

Fair says that Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISA, manipulates public outrage toward the American drone strikes.

"They do this strategically by fanning the flames of anti-Americanism," says Fair. "They then use that animosity as wiggle room to tell the Americans, 'well we can't do this because it's already so unpopular.' "

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