PSU Panel Discusses Implications of Drone Warfare

The Pomona Student Union (PSU) hosted the panel "Screens of War: Remote Killings by Predator Drones" Nov. 1. The event focused on the political, ethical and legal implications of the use of drones in foreign nations, and how the outcome of the Nov. 6 presidential election might affect the program.

The speakers at the event were Ken Anderson, a law professor at American University; David Glazier, a law professor at Loyola Law School; and Shane Harris, a journalist for The Washingtonian

According to event organizer Ella Taranto PO '15, drones, which are remotely controlled, armed aerial vehicles, have been used by both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Since Obama took office, there have been four times as many deaths from drone warfare, and six times as many drones deployed, as under the Bush administration. 

"For me, the scary thought is that regardless of the outcome of the election next week, it seems like the drone program is going to continue," Glazier said at the panel. "Obama seems thoroughly wedded to it."

Anderson said that the Obama administration is setting itself up with what he called a false belief that the drone warfare program will cause no adverse side effects. He said that a withdrawal of drones from nations like Pakistan, which does not support the United States' use of drones within its borders, may be necessary.

Glazier said that the ethical problems that could arise from drone warfare should not be forgotten. 

"Even if we accept the idea that it's legal, we always have to see that just because something is legal doesn't mean it's worth doing," he said. "So there are built-in questions that we all should be insisting upon." 

Taranto said, "One of the reasons drone warfare is particularly interesting to me is that although there are a lot of questions and concerns about it, those concerns don't necessarily fall along party lines. I think it's good to have policy discussions that don't divide clearly between Democrat and Republican."

Sarah Servin CM '15, President of the Democrats of the Claremont Colleges, wrote in an e-mail to TSL that many voters did not take drone warfare into consideration when casting ballots.

"I don't think that President Obama's use of drones will affect the upcoming election at all. This election is all about the economy and job creation, and I don't think that the majority of the American people have any foreign policy on their minds when filling out their ballots for Tuesday," she wrote. "I think that the only way for drone warfare to become an issue for voters is if/when drone technology is acquired by other countries and is either used or used as a threat against the United States."

Taranto agreed that neither major party is likely to run campaigns on an anti-drone platform anytime soon. 

"Whether the constituents of one party or the other are more likely to take issue with it is a different story," she said.