Death From The Heavens: The Politics of the United States' Drone Campaign in Pakistan's Tribal Areas

Masood, Hassan
April 2013
Critique: A Worldwide Student Journal of Politics;Spring2013, p1
Academic Journal
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, known as UAVs or commonly as drones, used in the War on Terror occupy a mysterious and underrepresented place in American foreign policy discourse. Due to their covert nature, the use of drones are never fully explained or contextualized by U.S. media outlets or the United States government and military. It was domestic and not foreign policy that brought the discussion of drone strikes to the forefront of American public discourse when Rand Paul, a Republican U.S. Senator from Kentucky, conducted a twelve-hour long Senate filibuster in protest of the Obama administration's ambiguity and secrecy concerning its drone program. The filibuster was also in protest of John Brennan's nomination as C.I.A. director. The debate within the United States has revolved around the concern regarding the unchecked executive power of the President to order drone strikes against American citizens on American soil. In stark contrast, the Pakistani public and media have been obsessed with the use of American drones in their tribal areas. In this research project I argue that the secrecy surrounding the drone program has significantly damaged its effectiveness and greatly increased anti-American sentiments among the Pakistani public. I argue that the expanded drone program under President Obama has been counterproductive when it comes to counter-insurgency strategy. My research demonstrates that the violation of Pakistan's sovereignty is one of the most significant sources of anti-American sentiment among Pakistani public. By employing the constructivist framework I demonstrate that drones create a new discursive space that ostensibly dehumanizes its targets, but it also provides a powerful narrative to the communities victimized by the use of drones. My tentative conclusion is that counter-insurgency strategy that is meant to win 'hearts and minds' is significantly impeded by the use of drones because of the initial decision by the American government to not publically acknowledge the use of drone as a legitimate counter-insurgency tactic.


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