The Moral, Legal, and Diplomatic Implications of Drone Warfare in Pakistan
Oblinger, Anne Lauren
THE MORAL, LEGAL, AND DIPLOMATIC IMPLICATIONSOF DRONE WARFARE IN PAKISTANAnne L. Oblinger, B.A.MALS Mentor: Nicholas Palarino, Ph.D.ABSTRACTThis thesis examines the political, moral, legal, and diplomatic controversy of the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) fast-growing drone program in the Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) border region. First, this thesis provides a general overview of the covert drone program intended to thwart militant and terrorist planning and activity and how it has become so controversial since its inception in 2004 under the George W. Bush administration and grown considerably since the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009. Second, this thesis examines how drone strikes influence U.S.-Pakistan relations and Pakistani civilians' perceptions of the United States' presence in the Af-Pak border region where the strikes take place. Next, this thesis examines how drone strikes are viewed in the context of international law. Third, this thesis explores how drone strikes both help and hurt efforts by the United States to improve diplomacy in Pakistan and to understand the religious and cultural motivations behind terrorist activity. To present a well-rounded perspective on the aforementioned subjects, this thesis relies on a range of news articles, opinion pieces, international legal declarations, and consistently updated statistics about drone strikes provided by the non-partisan public policy institute the New America Foundation.This thesis finds that drone strikes impact U.S.-Pakistan relations in such a way that is difficult to quantify, mostly because of attempts by the CIA to keep the program as covert as possible and because of the Pakistani government's ambiguity towards the program. The CIA's drone program also plays a major role in the international legal arena not only because drones are being used in an undeclared war zone, but also because of the complicated, nomadic nature of terrorist threats and the risk of civilian casualties. Last, this thesis finds that in terms of diplomacy, awareness, and strategic gains, both Pakistan and the United States could benefit from implementing faith-based initiatives in the Af-Pak border region as part of a broader outreach to win the support of Pakistani civilians. Such support could also be gained if the CIA and the Pakistani government decided to make the intentions of and information about the drone program more transparent to civilians living in the border region.
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