Biden’s Review of Drone Strikes Is a Chance to Reject ‘Targeted Killings’

Biden’s Review of Drone Strikes Is a Chance to Reject ‘Targeted Killings’
An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, in southern Afghanistan, Jan. 31, 2010 (AP photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth).

On its first day in office, the Biden administration quietly placed temporary limits on counterterrorism drone strikes outside of active battlefields. According to the New York Times, which first broke the news last week, the new restrictions are intended as a stopgap while Biden’s national security team conducts a broader review of U.S. counterterrorism operations overseas—including whether to reverse policies put in place by the Trump administration that expanded the use of drone strikes.

In light of the Biden administration’s more cautious stance on drone strikes and its renewed focus on multilateralism, some analysts have argued the U.S. should be part of a broader, international effort to limit the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in certain contexts. But what would such an effort look like in practice? How workable is it? And what other pressing international legal questions would need to be addressed?

This week on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman digs into these questions with Charli Carpenter, a professor of political science and legal studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a guest researcher at the Peace Research Institute in Frankfurt. Click here to read a partial transcript of the interview.


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Relevant Articles on WPR:
Can the Laws of War Adapt to a World of Drone Warfare?
Behind the Growth Market in Counter-Drone Technology
Why It’s So Hard to Defend Against Drones
Are Drones the ‘Perfect Assassination Weapon,’ or an Overblown Threat?

Trend Lines is edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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