The Drone Wars.

Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann of the New America Foundation have completed their latest study into the use of drones in Pakistan (with a handy map of the strikes no less). A few of the relevant facts and figures:

Between 830 and 1,210 people have been killed. A third of those have been civilians, two-thirds have been militants.

There were 51 reported strikes in 2009, more than during the entire Bush administration, in which there were 45.

Pakistanis hate the drone attacks. Only 9% of Pakistanis approve of their use.

In the three weeks following the suicide bombings that killed several CIA Agents in Khost, there were 13 drone strikes, which were likely retaliation for the attack.

The bottom line however, seems to be that drones' usefulness is limited:

But the U.S. drone strikes don't seem to have had any great effect on the Taliban's ability to mount operations in Pakistan or Afghanistan or deter potential recruits, and they no longer have the element of surprise.

Still, heavy use of drones is likely to continue, despite strategic concerns about blowback and the possibility that the strikes themselves are illegal -- both because they've been successful at hitting certain high value targets and because it's the only way for the U.S. to target its enemies inside Pakistan.


-- A. Serwer

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