The Age of the Drones

Mark Bowden's cover story for the September issue of The Atlantic explores the complex range of ethical and legal issues that runs through in the U.S. military's drone program. Are drones creating more terrorists than standard warfare would? Do they kill fewer civilians? How important is it to increase transparency around the drone program? How important is it that the program adheres to international law? And should we limit our use of drones to active, armed conflicts? To address these questions, we invited specialists in military strategy, civil-liberty issues, and the law to debate the Bowden story.

Say What You Want About Drones—They're Perfectly Legal Reuters

Say What You Want About Drones—They're Perfectly Legal

Just because they are more technologically advanced than other weapons doesn't mean they violate international law.

How Drones Create More Terrorists Reuters

How Drones Create More Terrorists

Militants take advantage of fearful communities to draw new recruits.

Why the U.S. Needs to Stop Shrouding Its Drone Program in Secrecy Reuters

Why the U.S. Needs to Stop Shrouding Its Drone Program in Secrecy

Total transparency would force officials to consider their kill decisions more carefully.

Drones: Actually the Most Humane Form of Warfare Ever Reuters

Drones: Actually the Most Humane Form of Warfare Ever

How better targeting and surveillance can reduce the number of civilian casualties.

The Real Reason the Limits of Drone Use Are Murky: We Can't Decide What 'Terrorists' or 'Conflict' Mean Wikimedia Commons

The Real Reason the Limits of Drone Use Are Murky: We Can't Decide What 'Terrorists' or 'Conflict' Mean

With no consensus on terms of art, the government can obfuscate the moral issues around them.

The Case Against Drone Strikes on People Who Only 'Act' Like Terrorists Reuters

The Case Against Drone Strikes on People Who Only 'Act' Like Terrorists

Here's why these attacks present a much higher risk for civilian casualties and provoke significant anti-U.S. sentiment.

Panelists

  • James Jay Carafano
    Vice president for defense and foreign policy issues at The Heritage Foundation.
  • Conor Friedersdorf
    Politics writer with The Atlantic.
  • Rosa Brooks
    Professor of international law at Georgetown University Law Center.
  • Michael W. Lewis
    Former Navy fighter pilot and current professor of international law at Ohio Northern University School of Law.
  • Hassan Abbas
    Senior advisor at the Asia Society and the author of the forthcoming book The Taliban Revival.
  • Danya Greenfield
    Deputy director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council, where she leads the Yemen Policy Group.