- Drone strikes have become a defining strategy in the US War on Terror. Since the first combat drone strike in 2001, the executive branch has intentionally increased the deployment of drones for counterterrorism operations throughout the Middle East and North Africa. This thesis explores the moral and legal justifications for drone strikes, the political repercussions of strikes, and the broader implications of this new method of warfare. It finds that while just war rationale is shared amongst various cultures, differing proximities to strikes result in contradictory narratives. This creates a disconnect between the domestic and international politics of strikes. Nonetheless, drone strikes remain popular in the US because they distance Americans from the battlefield. Such popularity has motivated the US reliance on drones, allowing for their bureaucratic normalization. The use of drones has been defended by interpretations of international law that permit broadly applied force given the legal rights as well as obligations afforded during wartime. The occurrence of drone strikes across vast geographic regions necessitates critical thought about the contemporary utility of Just War Theory, and the appropriate role of the laws of armed conflict.
Key Words: foreign policy, drone strikes, war, Just War Theory, politics, Middle East