Recent warfare has seen increased use of “drones,” unmanned aircraft used either for surveillance or armed with missiles. According to a UK report, the US Air Force has increased use of drones over 600 percent from 2004-2010. At any given time in 2010, there were at least 36 US drones in the air over Afghanistan and Iraq. Although drone violence is extensive, expensive, and killing thousands of innocent people, public outcry has been relatively minor. Though there have been small community protests across the United States, there’s been no nation=wide outcry against these drone strikes. Why is that? Why aren’t we outraged by this senseless violence on a national level?
Over five years of drone strikes carried out by the United States has resulted in 2,400 deaths. A 2012 study revealed that only 2% of casualties were the people targeted. The rest were all civilian casualties, often referred to collateral damage. In addition to the civilian casualties, the drone program has other costs that are equally as staggering. Winslow Wheeler of the Center for Defense Information has challenged official reports that drones cost $4-$5 million per unit. The MQ-9 Reaper model of drone costs $120 million per group of four units and related equipment, called a CAP. He also points out that the fact that they are unmanned makes them no cheaper in the long run. Though they cost less to fly, the mission lengths are drastically longer, meaning that costs remain high. The Air Force announced in January of 2012 that they would cut their manned aircraft programs in favor of drones to save money. Wheeler however found that one CAP of drones cost around four times as much per year than the cut aircraft, an A-10 fighter jet.
A drone strike in Yemen, aimed at eliminating potential terror threats, killed 12 people in a wedding party in May of 2014. The most deadly drone attack in Yemen killed 41 people, 21 of whom were children (Woods 2012). Ferea al-Muslimi, a young man from Yemen, gave an interview to National Public Radio (NPR) in which he commented that the Yemeni people are starting to see the drone strikes as a fact of life. He said “Mothers in the past used to tell their kids ‘Go to sleep or I will call your father.’ Now they say, ‘Go to sleep or I will call the plane.’”