As drone technology advances and proliferates ever further, national and international security interests will increasingly come to be seen being served better by drones than by expeditionary campaigns. That said, the temptation for more state (and non-state) actors to use drones and to do so more often, will not necessarily make the world a safer or less violent place.
Within the countries of the Arab Spring, the forces unleashed by the sudden opening of political spaces were largely inexperienced, remain fearful and intolerant of each other, and were easily manipulated in regional and global proxy conflicts.
Western powers can and must play a key role in containing the threat posed by al-Qaeda, if only to to create the space in which local political, religious, civic, and business leaders can eradicate the fertile ground of regime illegitimacy from which al-Qaeda will otherwise, more likely than not, rise and rise again.
The announcement by the United States that it intends to enter into direct negotiations with the Afghan Taliban represents a significant opportunity to manage the Western ‘exit’ from the country by the end of 2014.
While there can be no doubt that the national and international legal regulation of the deployment of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, drones) for the purposes of surveillance, monitoring, intelligence gathering, and military strikes is of great importance, it is equally significant to take account of the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the deployment of drones, especially in relation to their use for targeted killing.
The use of drones from Gaza to Waziristan, from Helmand to Abyan and to Gedo, thus, has important implications for international security in two dimensions: the possibilities of managing intrastate conflict and the relationship between the intervening and the target state.