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Topic

THBT On Balance, Drone Warfare Should Not be Condemned

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Politics
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"Drone Warfare" is the coordination of use of drones within war. From Wikipedia, "A drone strike is an air strike delivered by one or more unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) or weaponized commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)". Drone warfare may consist of remote assassinations or multiple drone strikes in strategic areas, with little to no involvement of actual persons on the soil battling.

Drone Warfare and background info: "To the already complicated mix of counterterrorism as aggressive self-defense and morality in armed conflict, we must add the high technology arena of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Many argue that the combination of modern technology and sophisticated intelligence analysis all but ensure that the UAV, or drone, policy is the most effective contemporary means to conduct operational counterterrorism. The theory sounds compelling and convincing: what is more attractive than killing terrorists from the air with the use of sleek technology while minimizing risk to ground forces? We are in an age where shiny technology and seemingly sophisticated intelligence gathering and analysis converge, potentially removing the human element—and humanity—from decision-making..." -- https://law.utah.edu/projects/drone-warfare/

Burden of proof is shared.

Pro will argue we should encourage further and/or keep drone warfare.

Con will argue we should condemn, and perhaps eventually abolish use of drones in war if possible.

Condemn: to declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and without reservation (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/condemn)

On balance: taking both bad and good together

I can easily take the opposite side, just comment and I will switch.

Round 1
Pro
I have taken too many debates so my argument is admittedly weaker than my usual research. Apologies ahead of time.

There is airtight logic makes it clear that drone warfare must not be condemned.

A: If (unconventional) warfare is necessary, and if drone warfare is better than alternatives, then we should encourage drone warfare.

The first clause is a pre-requisite. Obviously, warring must be justified in order for the more specific drone warfare to be allowed.
Next, drone warfare must be among the best options possible. If there was a way to save more lives, or downright avoid warfare/deaths entirely, then obviously drone warfare should not be encouraged. 
The conclusion is self-evident. Since we must conduct war, and drone warfare is the best method possible, the only logic would be to choose the best method, in order to benefit society the most. Any method worse than the best would be causing unnecessary suffering. 

B: (Unconventional) Warfare is necessary.

Terrorists and extremists around the world have caused an asymmetric warfare already. It's well known that they use women and child to fool soldiers. They rarely fight fairly, resorting to remote bombing and often sneaking behind enemy lines to capture key targets. Fighting them as a basis is already justified. Terrorists rarely care about non-combatants, even though attacking the military is founded on both sides, there is no reason to attack an innocent. So here we think of the collective risk put together that makes this warfare necessary. There must be something to offset the balance. By distancing our soldiers from the actual action, we can gain an advantage of scouting, prevent deaths, and manage the warfare better. Within warfare, there is an inherent unsaid agreement that both sides may use violence against each other. But with unfair fighting on the opponent's side, while enforcing strict rules on the anti-terrorist side, I argue that America would inherently have the right to also sneak out an asymmetrical warfare in order to keep the benefits intact. Otherwise, nobody would swallow the severe disadvantage against terrorists, and it would be very hard to win wars against them.

C: Drone warfare is better than alternatives.

An article from Brookings [1] lays out the idea quite well. Firstly, it is able to undermine the terrorists' ability to choose leaders in a way conventional warfare is unable to do. "Drones have also undercut terrorists’ ability to communicate and to train new recruits. In order to avoid attracting drones, al Qaeda and Taliban operatives try to avoid using electronic devices or gathering in large numbers. A tip sheet found among jihadists in Mali advised militants to “maintain complete silence of all wireless contacts” and “avoid gathering in open areas.” Leaders, however, cannot give orders when they are incommunicado, and training on a large scale is nearly impossible when a drone strike could wipe out an entire group of new recruits. Drones have turned al Qaeda’s command and training structures into a liability, forcing the group to choose between having no leaders and risking dead leaders." 

In addition to this, drones are practically more effective than most pacifist types of combat. Brookings note that Drones which usually used in heavy combat zones outwit the ability of raids, arrests, etc: "in war zones or unstable countries, such as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, arresting militants is highly dangerous and, even if successful, often inefficient". Detaining the terrorist is not only difficult, but expounds the detention facility which US is trying desperately to shut down. Some say that drones will kill innocents, but ignores that the alternative is worse. "Compared with a 500-pound bomb dropped from an F-16, the grenadelike warheads carried by most drones create smaller, more precise blast zones that decrease the risk of unexpected structural damage and casualties." In addition to this, it is difficult to say for sure that politics would be able to stop the problems. Education, reformation of democracy, etc. are all hailed by opponents of drone warfare, but near impossible to actually implement. 

The number of civilians actually killed is very hard to determine, as most of the blast zones are close to where terrorists are working, and most of people in the area were likely related or supporting the enemy. Our non-drone attacks, such as the one on Yemen, were far more of a tragedy than any of the bombings conducted by drones. 

D: We should encourage drone warfare.

This is the conclusion. Technology has always driven warfare and enhanced our ability to kill the enemy. Occasionally nations agree that certain types of weapons are beyond that pale of what is acceptable, such as poison gas, or land mines, but in both of those cases it’s the indiscriminate nature of their damage that spurs the movement against their use.

It’s hard for me to understand what line a drone crosses versus the countless other weapons we use to against our perceived enemies. In the end, it appears that people are railing against that which is new, and therefore is less accepted, rather than what is actually unacceptable. Unless Con offers a better framework than a logical syllogism, my case stands.


Con
Drone warfare should be condemned because it distances the attacker from their victims, both physically and emotionally, to the extent that battle becomes percieved as a video game. Sitting behind a digital screen while killing people on the other side of the world negates the human instincts that tamper the already barbaric nature of war. These instincts and emotions are important because they drive us to take immense caution in avoiding the collateral damage of innocents, as well as instilling within soldiers a repulsion to the bloodshed and a hatred for the experience. It promotes the perception of war as an inorganic, technological process, hiding the massive pain inflicted on not only the victims, but their families and country.

Without the natural backlash and revulsion against engaging in war, the insatiable greed of political and economic leaders who view other nations as mere units of power and wealth on a gameboard to be conquered, will be allowed to run even freer than they are today.  There is always corruption on both sides of any war, and allowing anonymous, desensitized assassinations on a massive scale (which is effectively what dronestrikes are) would attract and amplify the worse of it.

There is no harm in using drones for reconnaissance and coordination.  This was raised as a justification for unconventional warfare, but it is not.  If the USA actually officially declared a war against a nation where drones were significant in achieving an official victory, I might concede that drones should be allowed in warfare.  But the lack of overall progress, or even any definite aim, in all wars today where drone warfare is advocated, indicates that drones are not being used for the legitimate purpose of arriving at victory, but instead to trivialize military invasions in service of some illegitimate and corrupt goal.  If not explicitly, at least in practice.  No warfare can be defined as necessary if it lacks a clearly-defined purpose, and drone warfare is no exception.  So it remains to be demonstrated that unconventional warfare in the era of drones is necessary.  Only once that is done can the mitigation of collateral damage be raised in an attempt to argue in favor of drones.

Corrupt officials in the USA already avoid using technology to communicate, but that doesn't prove the effectiveness of drones, since no American mobster is fearful of a dronestrike.  Avoiding gathering in open areas is also required to avoid airstrikes by manned aircraft, so this cannot be proof of the effectiveness of drones either.

I am confused by your point about collateral damage.  In point B I thought you were arguing that drones make it easier to snipe enemy combatants while avoiding civilians, but in point C you appear to downplay your own argument by claiming it's at least not as bad as a 500-pound bomb.  It is not clear how effective you believe drone warfare is at avoiding collateral damage.

The distinction between warzones and unstable countries is also confusing, because it implies you are arguing for drone warfare in countries one is not even at war with.  Is that the case?

The line between drone warfare and other conventional weapons is pretty stark.  Only with drones can one shoot or bomb somebody on the other side of the globe, which is only one step away from programming a machine to wage a war by itself.

Round 2
Pro
Con says that drone warfare separates the person from their emotions that would allow caution, however this is nonsensical. In the immediate face of danger, one's fear may overtake oneself. The pure amount of people that obtain PTSD as a result of war display the traumatic effects of going into war. The desperation to save oneself puts such an urgent level of emotion that one may be unable to think clearly while in the midst of combat. If anything, with less emotion and more logic, one may more precisely execute precise instructions and hesitate before harming a bystander.

Hbr.org contradicts Con by giving a solid scientific explanation for what occurs during fear: "Complex decision-making disappears, as does our access to multiple perspectives. As our attention narrows, we find ourselves trapped in the one perspective that makes us feel the most safe: “I’m right and you’re wrong,” even though we ordinarily see more perspectives." [1] As you can see, distancing oneself is precisely what is necessary to let someone decide correct tactics and strategy within warfare.  For example, if a person comes out of the fog, a solder's caution and fear may ironically cause them to accidentally shoot the innocent. In contrast, drones are disposable. While the operator will still be on guard, the worst case scenario for the allies is merely losing a machine rather than losing one's life, so you could risk waiting out the situation and seeing if the person is friend or foe. Con's logic falls apart and is turned against him.

Con claims that drones are ineffective, but gives no sources. He has failed to overturn the numerous examples I gave from Brookings.edu that display it far more effective than its alternatives. I extend my argument.

Con seems confused. To clarify, drones are very precise. They are more easily able to target specific people without harming innocent bystanders. I hope that makes sense.

Con claims that the remote ability to instantly start some warfare is quite different, but does not tell us why. By nature of self defense, it seems inconsequential whether I have to use a sniper to kill a serial killer at 1 mile away, or be forced to use a knife at close range against a murderer, or in this case, use a drone thousands of miles away.

Con
Drones trivialize warfare. That was my point about emotions, and Con hasn't denied that trivializing warfare promotes corruption.  Soldiers are trained to obey orders, so they don't need to perform complex decision-making in the heat of battle. During D-Day, they were commanded to rush directly into machinegun fire and there was no issue of deserters attempting to flee.

The greater authority one has in a war, the further distanced they are from the actual combat. This is the case whether drones are used or not, so arguing that drones allow colder calculation is misguided.  The leaders are not at the front-lines in the heat of battle.

There is literally no real-life example of drone warfare preventing friendly fire, even though my opponent highlights that as an alleged bonus of drone use.

Con provided precisely 2 examples from his source that were supposed to demonstrate the effectiveness of drones, but I explained how they don't demonstrate anything of the sort.

It's still not clear whether Con's entire position relies completely on warfare against nations one is not actually officially at war with.  Is Con advocating for drone warfare only in the case of the USA versus Middle Eastern groups, or for drone warfare in general?

If it's the former then the fact that the current military excursions of the USA in the Middle East continue to be decades-long, aimless exercises with no end in sight, are compelling evidence that drone warfare has not brought the USA closer to victory in the least.  Rather, it proves my point that drones trivialize warfare and promote its use for corrupt ends.  A corrupt end is anything besides victory.

Drones are not being used for self-defense so Con's last argument is invalid.  Drone warfare is being used thousands of miles away from the nation supposedly defending itself.  How is that self-defense?
Round 3
Pro
Con claims that drones would make the corruption even worse, but doesn't tell us why this is worse than sending soldiers off to their deaths. If anything, this is another extra coin flipped in my direction. If you would send resources to a war for ultimate futility, wouldn't it be better to sacrifice mere drones, rather than killing the soldiers?

Notice how Con also dropped the PTSD factor which drones would severely reduce. This would help in trauma care and allow humans to reduce unnecessary suffering, which is important in the long run. The less trauma you have, the better you can operate in your other operations, and the clearer your mind can think in terms of warfare. Con is standing on nothing for his argument.

Con claims there is no real example that the drones prevented friendly fire, but completely ignores the Brookings' ideas about drones' precision and the ability to avoid needless casualties. Even if Brookings isn't enough, there's plenty of other research that suggests the same. An expert paper from Georgetown states, "At any rate, drone strikes kill civilians at no higher a rate, andalmost certainly at a lower rate, than most other common means ofwarfare. Drones actually permit far greater precision in targeting. Today’sunmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) carry highly accurate ordinance thatgenerally produces far less widespread damage that other munitions." [1Con has been ignorant of all the examples and the studies that I have highlighted. Thus, this point is still in my favor.

Con says my position is unclear, but the premise is that Drone Warfare should be encouraged or justified under the majority of circumstances. If US decides to battle Middle East mostly using drones, then I would support that based on my logic.

Next, Con claims that Drone warfare has not significantly changed the war, but the war does not necessarily have to be resolved for drones to be justified. He calls it "corruption" but once again glances over precisely how and why this is "corruption". He ignores my argument that it is better than the alternatives. For example, perhaps a nuke could instantly end the war, but would cause massive suffering among civilians. So ending the war is not necessarily the most important goal we have in mind. And we are still doing the greatest good by stopping the terrorists from harming people the best we can. Unless Con can produce another miracle solution that significantly stops the war, it still seems that drone is the best solution possible.

Con claims that the drone warfare is not self-defense. But the terrorists and the dangerous people have threatened the safety of US and allies. By striking first and preventing them from doing further harm, how is this not self defense?

Con
My opponent began his last response with a circular argument. That if drones trivialize war, which encourages further corrupt wars, then drones should be sacrificed in service of these wars instead of the lives of real soldiers. But without drones these sorts of wars would be discouraged in the first place, so this doesn't justify their use.

I acknowledge that PTSD is a terribly distressing issue for a significant fraction of soldiers, and that drone warfare isn't prone to causing this (to the ones behind the drones, at least).  But neither is launching a nuclear strike from the other side of the world.  What both of these things have in common is that there has not been any actual war where either were justified, yet they've been used without regard for the pain, death and PTSD of the victims on the other side, especially that of civilians. 

PTSD is not a significant issue for high-ranking officers, drones or no drones.  Again, soldiers don't need to think in the heat of battle.  That's not their job.  Their job is to carry out what they've been heavily trained to do, to the point that emotions do not even begin to interfere.  Where these emotions are useful is that, when they come back home, they decry the horrors of war, instead of having experienced it as a video game.  Drones eliminate the potential for empathy and recognition that there are humans on the other side also.

Imagine your homeland was engaged in a massive war with a country of equal power and stature.  Do you want drone warfare in your own territory, where drones fly into heavily populated areas in order to snipe high-ranking officers?  If it wasn't happening at the start of the war, it certainly would occur in retaliation once your country started it.

Con claims there is no real example that the drones prevented friendly fire, but completely ignores the Brookings' ideas about drones' precision and the ability to avoid needless casualties.
Assume these drones are really as accurate and precise as your sources portray them.  Are you okay with the enemy using them in your own country during a war?  Flying killer robots into your urban areas?  Trusting they won't hurt any civilians?  They don't need to actually physically harm any civilians to terrorize them.

Next, Con claims that Drone warfare has not significantly changed the war, but the war does not necessarily have to be resolved for drones to be justified.
If a war has not been resolved for decades, despite drone warfare being used, that speaks to itself of the failure of the use of drones to have been justified.  My opponent's stance seems to rest almost entirely on the track record of America's invasions in the Middle East.

perhaps a nuke could instantly end the war, but would cause massive suffering among civilians. So ending the war is not necessarily the most important goal we have in mind.
Ending the war is definitely the most important goal, even though there's the caveat that it must be ended appropriately.

And we are still doing the greatest good by stopping the terrorists from harming people the best we can.
But 9/11 occurred after we began drone warfare.  If anything, it encouraged terrorists to harm more people.

Unless Con can produce another miracle solution that significantly stops the war, it still seems that drone is the best solution possible.
The miracle solution is literally stop warring. The USA is thousands of miles away from where its soldiers are fighting an enemy who has no intention or capability of waging war inside the USA.  There's literally zero drawbacks to the USA to end the war.

But the terrorists and the dangerous people have threatened the safety of US and allies. By striking first and preventing them from doing further harm, how is this not self defense?

the terrorists and the dangerous people
How terrifying and dangerous can they be? They're 7,000 miles away.
Round 4
Pro
Con continues claiming that drones would somehow enhance the corruption of warfare, but given the examples and my logic, I believe that my case wins over his case. He doesn't show us what happens as a result of the corruption -- what negative effects precisely do we receive? He doesn't say. In contrast, the operators are able to make more rational decisions, and prevent PTSD among soldiers. The former is the opposite of corruption -- as leaders may justify terrible decisions made due to emotional distress. The latter boosts morale and actually encourages soldiers to rebel against the unjust leader. When Con says the soldiers mindlessly go into war to sacrifice themselves, has it not occurred to him that the corruption combined with lack of ability to make complex decisions is what furthers the corruption? It doesn't seem to make sense that the more logical being, the robot, would somehow enhance selfishness and greed, two human emotions. 

Con states that the "empathy" would somehow be ignored and the soldiers would carry on their mission. Well, considering the vast majority of warfare is from US, and we still value innocents and not harming bystanders, I think that the idea of correctly carrying out the mission is better fulfilled by the drone. In the end, it wouldn't matter if we treated it as a video game, as we would be able to precisely assassinate key targets, rather than risking bystanders. My point still stands.

Con asks a few questions without really getting to the point. I see no issue with mere "terrorization" and "Fear" as long as the citizens actually suffer no harm. We both agree we want results in a better resolving of wars, but con doesn't really tell us precisely why getting rid of drones will better realize that result. He complains that we have encouraged the enemy to strike back harder due to drones, but gives no source that drones alone were the cause. Wouldn't any kind of war declaration cause terrorists to strike back? 

Con claims there is zero drawback to outright stopping the war, but gives no source. Not only so, it seems nearly impossible to me that the US would stop any wars outright, especially with their commitment already to stop terrorism. I reiterate my self-defense argument to prove that US was justified in starting the war in the first place. Next, Con tries to bat away the entirely by asking how dangerous terrorists are. Either he thinks they are not a danger, disproving the 9/11 argument and absurdly ignoring their dangerous acts, or, he is contradicting himself.

Either way, I've established that drones reduce bystander suffering by significant amount, that the warfare is necessary in the first place due to the terrorist acts, so on and so forth. Con has failed to address the fact that the soldiers' experience would also vastly improve with reduction of stressful emotions. As con has used zero sources to support any of his arguments, I ask voters to take them with a grain of salt, and to vote for me. Thanks for the debate.
Con
He doesn't show us what happens as a result of the corruption -- what negative effects precisely do we receive? He doesn't say.
I did say though.  I pointed out how the only war with actual extensive drone warfare, the USA versus groups in the Middle East, has been trivialized and dragged out for illegitimate ends.  This so-called war has never been won, and it's been decades, yet it's my opponent's primary example for justifying drone warfare.

prevent PTSD among soldiers
Without the war there would be no PTSD.  My opponent's argument hinges largely on the validity of the war itself, which is in serious doubt.

leaders may justify terrible decisions made due to emotional distress
Leaders aren't at the frontlines so they aren't experiencing any distress that would cloud their judgement.

It doesn't seem to make sense that the more logical being, the robot, would somehow enhance selfishness and greed, two human emotions.
We can take this logic to an absurd conclusion by using it to justify invasions of foreign nations based solely on predictions generated by black-box computer systems indicating how much wealth is to be looted and power to be gained.

the vast majority of warfare is from US, and we still value innocents and not harming bystanders
The atomic bombs are overwhelming evidence that despite how much the USA values innocent civilian lives, this gets thrown out the window as soon as technology allows the sort of cheating that is nukes or drone warfare.

I see no issue with mere "terrorization" and "Fear" as long as the citizens actually suffer no harm.
But your entire justification for the war where drones are being used was that the other side is terrorists.

Wouldn't any kind of war declaration cause terrorists to strike back?
They're alreading striking back.  With a war declaration comes a coherent definition of a victory and surrender condition for both sides, as well as mutual respect.  Without it, as we are currently observing, the bloodshed can be drawn out indefinitely.

it seems nearly impossible to me that the US would stop any wars outright, especially with their commitment already to stop terrorism
You haven't denied that this commitment has not been successful despite decades of attempting to follow-up on it, even though I've raised this point several times.

I reiterate my self-defense argument to prove that US was justified in starting the war in the first place.
My opponent has not pointed to any concrete justification for starting the war which indirectly led to retaliation in the form of the 9/11 terror attack.  My opponent's justifications for drone warfare depend largely or entirely on justifying this war.

As con has used zero sources to support any of his arguments, I ask voters to take them with a grain of salt
The voters don't need expert sources to remind them that 9/11 took place after a war which my opponent has failed to justify.  Sources are not needed to prove that various historic events I referred to took place, such as that atomic bombs were detonated over Japan.