Middle East Policy Council

Journal Essay

Drone Warfare: Blowback from the New American Way of War

Leila Hudson, Colin S. Owens, Matt Flannes

Fall 2011, Volume XVIII, Number 3

Leila Hudson is associate professor of anthropology and history in the School of Middle Eastern & North African Studies at the University of Arizona and director of the Southwest Initiative for the Study of Middle East Conflicts (SISMEC). Colin Owens and Matt Flannes are graduate students in the School of Middle Eastern & North African Studies and the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona. Both work as research associates for the Southwest Initiative for the Study of Middle East Conflicts (SISMEC).

Targeted killing by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), commonly known as drones, has become the central element of U.S. counterterror operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, a safe haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. Over nearly a decade, drone-attack frequency and death rates have increased dramatically. Rather than calming the region through the precise elimination of terrorist leaders, however, the accelerating counterterror program has compounded violence and instability. These consequences need to be addressed, since the summer of 2011 has seen the dramatic expansion of the drone program into Yemen, Somalia and Libya.

Drone warfare has complicated the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, a sisyphean counterinsurgency and nation-building project, by provoking militant attacks in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan.1 At the strategic level, fragmented U.S. intelligence and military policies are working at cross purposes, eroding trust through "covert" drone warfare on the Pakistani side of the Durand line while trying tardily to build trust on the Afghan side.2 The growing outrage of Pakistani society came to a head in spring 2011 over the Raymond Davis incident and the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden. These events put great stress on relations between the United States and the world's most volatile nuclear state.

Although its proponents promote drone warfare as more precise and effective than traditional counterterror measures, the death toll from drone attacks in Pakistan since 2004 hovers imprecisely between 1,500 and 2,500 people.3 The public is routinely assured that a high percentage of those extrajudicially killed are militants, but victims are often unnamed and deaths rarely investigated.4 The few successful drone attacks on high-profile targets seem to have mobilized existing networks of followers to conduct symbolic revenge attacks of comparable magnitude, like the December 2009 Khost bombing, which sought to avenge the drone killing of Beitullah Mehsud in Waziristan earlier that year. By extension, non-militants victimized by drone attacks directly or indirectly far outnumber targeted militants. Thus, a stream of new adversaries is produced in what is called the "accidental guerrilla" phenomenon.5

On a different level, the erosion of trust and lack of clarity in drone policy produces strategic and tactical confusion within the U.S. defense and intelligence agencies. This confusion proves unhelpful as exit strategies for the Afghan war are debated and continuing evaluation of U.S.-Pakistani relations are assessed behind closed doors. By the same token, the ongoing ambivalence of the Pakistani civilian and military leadership on the topic of U.S. drone strikes has fanned the flames of popular discontent in the country's fragile political system, revealing the infrastructure of contradictions in the roles of its military-intelligence sectors that simultaneously work with the United States and promote militant organizations. All these forms of blowback — the unintended consequences of policies not subjected to the scrutiny of the American public — complicate U.S. policy in the region and should be considered before drone warfare is expanded into the Arabian Peninsula and Africa.6

In total, we argue that drone warfare has created five distinct, yet overlapping, forms of blowback: (1) the purposeful retaliation against the United States, (2) the creation of new insurgents, referred to as the "accidental guerrilla" syndrome, (3) the further complication of U.S. strategic coordination and interests in what the Bush and Obama administrations have designated the Afghan/Pakistan (Af/Pak) theatre, (4) the further destabilization of Pakistan and (5) the deterioration of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. As the drone policy is adapted for use in post-Saleh Yemen, it is important to address these forms of blowback.

DRONE WARFARE 101

Drones were first used for battlefield reconnaissance, but over the last 10 years have evolved into America's preferred killing machines for locations where the U.S. military does not operate openly on the ground. The evolution of drone technology has been quick, with new developments allowing for longer flight, heavier payloads, vertical takeoff from ships, and deployment to more areas of the world. While the Predator MQ-1 and Predator B (Reaper) MQ-9 have carried out most surveillance and attacks, new platforms have been deployed that will likely be engaging targets in the near future. The most recent evolution of UAVs are the RQ-4 Global Hawk (designed and used for surveillance only) and the MQ-8B Fire Scout. The latter is currently deployed on ships off the Horn of Africa and in the Caribbean.7 With basic models starting at $4.5 million, these aircraft are cost efficient and carry little risk burden, especially since human pilots are removed from the equation.

Figure 1: Types of Drones8
Make Model/Name Use Payload (approx.)
General Atomics Predator/MQ-1 Surveillance/Armed Strikes 450 lbs.
General Atomics Predator B/Reaper/MQ-9 Surveillance/Armed Strikes 850 lbs.
Northrop Grumman Global Hawk Surveillance 2,000 lbs.
Northrop Grumman Fire Scout MQ-8B Surveillance/Armed Strikes 800 lbs.

 

The use of armed drones by the United States has developed over nearly a decade. The program's evolution can be broken into four phases. Phase one, roughly 2002-04, served as a testing period of limited strikes on high-value targets. The first use of remotely piloted drones for missile attacks outside identified war zones took place in 2002. This attack, in northeastern Yemen, killed al-Qaeda member Salim Sinan al-Harethi, who was suspected of masterminding the 2000 USS Cole bombing in Aden. The next attack, in 2004, targeted Nek Mohammad, a former mujahed who became an influential member of the Taliban and fled to Pakistan after the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. 9

The second phase, 2005-07, consisted of a slight increase in strikes but retained the same target set: high-value terrorist suspects. These attacks were conducted exclusively in Pakistan and followed the initial success of the program, defined by eliminating high-value targets. In 2005, the United States claimed it killed al-Qaeda's number three, Hamza Rabia, but conflicting reports cast doubts on Rabia's actual position and foreshadowed the ambiguity involved in targeting and identifying high-value targets.10

The third phase of drone warfare took place during the end of the Bush administration and consisted of an acceleration of attack frequency: 37 during 2008, compared to a total of nine in the first two periods.11 The success of the drone program during its infancy, as defined by the ability to kill high-value targets like Harethi and Nek Mohammad, gave the Bush administration the impression that if limited drone strikes were successful, more strikes would be even better.

The Bush administration's increased reliance on the program started in 2008; however, it is with the Obama administration that we see the most rapid proliferation of attacks. The final phase of the drone program is characterized by an even greater increase in attack frequency and an expansion of the target list to include targets of opportunity and unidentified militants of dubious rank — and funerals.12 As of May 2011, the CIA under the Obama administration has conducted nearly 200 drone strikes. This suggests that the drone target list now includes targets of opportunity, likely including some selected in consultation with the Pakistani authorities in order to facilitate the increasingly unpopular program. This development, in turn, has now decreased the effectiveness of the program when assessed in terms of the ratio of high-value to accidental kills.

As Figure 2 shows, the steady increase in drone attacks conducted in Pakistan between 2004 and 2010 has resulted in a far higher number of deaths overall, but a lower rate of successful killings of high-value militant leaders who command, control and inspire organizations. If we define a high-value target as an organizational leader known to intelligence sources and the international media prior to attack and not someone whose death is justified with a posthumous militant status, we see fewer and fewer such hits — the alleged killing of al-Qaeda commander Ilyas al-Kashmiri in 2009 and again in June 2011 notwithstanding.13

Figure 2: Drone Strikes by Phase16
Phase
Strikes
High Value Targets Killed
Total Deaths
HVT-to-Total Deaths Ratio
1 (2002-2004)
2
2
11
1:5
2 (2005-2007)
6
2
53
1:26
3 (2008-2009)
End of Bush's Term
48
5
333
1:66
4 (2009-2010)
Obama Administration
161
7
1029
1:147

 

Data analysis shows that at the beginning of the drone program (2002-04), five or six people were killed for each defined high-value target. As part of that high-value target's immediate entourage, they were much more likely to be militants than civilians. By 2010, one high-value target was killed per 147 total deaths. The increased lethality of each attack is due to larger payloads, broader target sets such as funeral processions, and probable new targeting guidelines (including targets of opportunity).14

Over time, these more deadly drone attacks have failed to effectively decapitate the leadership of anti-U.S. organizations but have killed hundreds of other people subsequently alleged to be militants; many were civilians.15 The rapidly growing population of survivors and witnesses of these brutal attacks have emotional and social needs and incentives to join the ranks of groups that access and attack U.S. targets in Afghanistan across the porous border.

Drone attacks themselves deliver a politically satisfying short-term "bang for the buck" for U.S. constituencies ignorant of and indifferent to those affected by drone warfare or the phenomenon of blowback. In the Pakistani and Afghan contexts, they inflame the populations and destabilize the institutions that drive regional development. In addition to taking on an unacceptable and extrajudicial toll in human life, the drone strikes in unintended ways complicate the U.S. strategic mission in Afghanistan, as well as the fragile relationship with Pakistan. As a result, the U.S. military's counterinsurgency project in Afghanistan becomes a victim of the first two forms of blowback.

1. PURPOSEFUL RETALIATION

The Khost Bombing, December 2009

The Khost bombing exemplifies the dynamic of drone provocation in Pakistan and terrorist retaliation in Afghanistan. In late December 2009, Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian national, entered the CIA compound within Camp Chapman, located just outside of Khost, Afghanistan. Shortly after entering the compound, al-Balawi detonated an explosive vest, killing himself, seven CIA officers including the station chief, and a Jordanian intelligence officer. Before this incident, U.S. and Jordanian intelligence services had recruited al-Balawi, a medical doctor, to gather information on al-Qaeda's then number two, Ayman al-Zawahri. In a video released after the bombing at Camp Chapman, al-Balawi states, "This attack will be the first of revenge operations against the Americans and their drone teams outside the Pakistani borders."17

Al-Balawi's video testimony makes clear that he was motivated to avenge the death of Beitullah Mehsud, killed in August 2009 by a drone strike in Zengara, South Waziristan. Ironically, in the case of the Khost bombing, it was the United States that was subject to a decapitation attack aimed at a strategic intelligence center.

2. THE ACCIDENTAL GUERRILLA

Radicalization and Recruitment

Between 2004 and 2009, our research and databases compiled by others document a dramatic spike in deaths by suicide bombings in Afghanistan and Pakistan.18 While it is impossible to prove direct causality from data analysis alone, it is probable that drone strikes provide motivation for retaliation, and that there is a substantive relationship between the increasing number of drone strikes and the increasing number of retaliation attacks.

For every high-profile, purposeful attack like the Khost bombing, many more low-profile attacks take place. These types of attacks can be explained by what military strategist David Kilcullen calls the accidental-guerrilla phenomenon, a local rejection of external forces.19 By using drone warfare as the only policy tool in the FATA without any local political engagement, the United States is almost certainly creating accidental guerrillas. These new combatants, unable to retaliate against the United States within FATA, will likely cross the border into Afghanistan, where U.S. troops and NATO and Afghan security forces are concentrated and present easily identifiable targets. Or they may join the ranks of groups like the Pakistani Taliban, whose attacks within Pakistan destabilize the U.S.-Pakistani alliance. The last days of June 2011 illustrated the worst extremes of this phenomenon: a married couple carrying out a suicide attack in Pakistan, and an eight-year-old duped (not recruited) into an Afghan suicide attack.20

It should be emphasized that only a small minority of those affected by drone attacks become the kinds of radicals envisioned by Kilcullen. However, with the average frequency of a drone strike every three days in 2010, this would be enough to provide a steady stream of new recruits and destabilize the region through direct violence. The less direct effect of steady drone attacks and militant counterattacks is a smoldering dissatisfaction with dead-end policy. On the U.S. military, intelligence and policy side, this results in division in the ranks, preventing a unified effort.21 In Afghanistan and Pakistan, this cycle results in anti-government agitation and anti-American sentiment, which may force sudden policy adjustments by political and military actors.

3. U.S. COMPLICATIONS

Strategic Confusion

In Afghanistan, the U.S. military is using newly codified counterinsurgency doctrine distilled from Iraq. It focuses on diminishing the political, social and economic conditions that create and bolster the armed resistance seen as insurgency. The rules governing the use of force in U.S. counterinsurgency theory have been designed to reduce deaths generally and thus prevent creating new insurgents.22 This type of strategy was long sidelined in favor of a counterterrorism policy targeting militants. However, the U.S. military has been forced to acknowledge the centrality of this strategy in stabilizing Iraq, as indicated by the massive decrease in civilian and coalition casualties.

Ironically, the initial success of drone killings in disrupting strategic organizations has bred its own downfall. The further down the militant hierarchy drone strikes aim and hit, the fewer the high-value targets and the less critical the disruption to the organization. On the other hand, due to counterinsurgency policy across the border in Afghanistan — which relies on "hearts and minds" and troops living on the ground side by side with civilians — the damage to the high-cost campaign is even more palpable.

The strategic disconnect between counterinsurgency and counterterrorism is only exacerbated by the remote-control nature of the covert drone program, which allows the U.S. public to turn a blind eye. Drone strikes, launched from bases within Pakistan but directed from sites as far away as the American Southwest, are popular with their proponents for several reasons. They are cheaper, less risky to U.S. personnel and easy to run with minimal accountability.23 The same lack of accountability that makes them a favorite of covert intelligence programs disguises the long-term and local effects of regularly, but unpredictably, unleashing violence from the skies. However, if and when a high-value target is killed, the death is celebrated in Western media. The first example of this was Harethi's death in 2002, which has been followed by a handful of successful attacks, such as the alleged but unproven killing of Ilyas al-Kashmiri in 2011.

Debate over the drone program continues within the U.S. policy and strategic community. The CIA wants to continue its mission in Pakistan unabated; the Department of State and the Pentagon would like more restrictions on the program. No one is willing to argue that the program needs be cut completely, but many within State and the Pentagon believe that the current pace of drone strikes risks destabilizing a nuclear-armed ally and makes the task of U.S. diplomats more difficult.24

4. DESTABILIZING PAKISTAN

Exposing the Contradictions

Loss of life from drone strikes is an emotional and enormously volatile public issue in Pakistan. Drone attacks on Pakistani territory killing Pakistani citizens every two to three days are a constant challenge to established ideas of sovereignty by a putative ally and patron. The notion of attack from the skies, without direct agency or accountability, may in theory be an attractive vehicle for U.S. counterterrorism, but it comes at a high price. Drone attacks compound the feeling of those on the ground in the target area of their asymmetrical vulnerability and the necessity of fighting back smartly.25

In a country whose political structure is ambiguous, Pakistanis who hope to petition their government with grievances regarding the drone program, or report critically on Islamabad's relationship with the United States and militants, are met with stiff resistance and sometimes violence. A recent attack resulted in the death of the prominent Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, bureau chief for The Asia Times. Shahzad was reporting on links between al-Qaeda and the Pakistani security apparatus, which may have facilitated the attack on Pakistan's Mehran Naval Base late in May 2011. Internal reporting on the Pakistani military and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is often self-censored because of its inherent dangers; those bold enough to report on it often face physical danger. Shahzad's body was found in a ditch south of Islamabad two days after he missed a scheduled television appearance. The ISI claims no knowledge of, and takes no responsibility for, the abduction and death of Shahzad, but other journalists reject that claim.26 In sum, the drone program serves to further destabilize an already fragile system by deepening divides between a citizenry that abhors the attacks and government institutions that tolerate or facilitate them and brook no critical oversight.

5. PRECARIOUS ALLIANCE

U.S.-Pakistani Tensions

On January 27, 2011, American citizen Raymond Davis shot and killed two Pakistanis in the streets of Lahore. Davis, a CIA contract employee gathering intelligence on the Lashkar-e-Taiba, claimed the two men were attempting to rob him when he fired upon them. Davis spent a total of seven weeks incarcerated while the United States and Pakistan worked on the conditions of his release, ultimately secured through traditional blood-money payments.27 During the first half of Davis's imprisonment through February 20, drone strikes within Pakistan stopped altogether. As a deal between the two governments took shape, drone strikes resumed, as if the incident had never occurred. While negotiations were taking place, Pakistan was able to call for a reduction of actions by the CIA and U.S. Special Operations within their territory and for a reduction of drone strikes, but this demand was not permanently realized.28 The incident illustrates the precarious position of the Pakistani government, torn between local popular opposition and its overbearing U.S. patron.

While Pakistanis have protested drone strikes in the past, most of these protests have gone unnoticed in the U.S. media. It took what was presented in the Western press as a human-interest story about an American citizen engaging in self-defense to remind the U.S. population what the Obama administration is doing in Pakistan and bring Washington's strategy to the forefront. But what, if anything, has been learned from the Raymond Davis incident? The United States continues to conduct drone attacks without apparent regard for even the acute anger created in the wake of the Davis negotiations.

In the early hours of May 2, 2011, U.S. Navy SEALs raided a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing Osama bin Laden. The fact that soldiers, not drones, conducted the raid is telling. It is clear that the U.S. administration and military command at least recognize that the use of drones is not a silver bullet, and that human discretion and judgment are needed when combating an elusive and fluid network. Again, it took a sensational U.S. media story — the story of the decade, no less — to focus American public opinion and congressional oversight briefly on the decline of U.S.-Pakistani relations. These two incidents, the Raymond Davis negotiations and the Bin Laden raid, reveal that drone warfare has brought the U.S.-Pakistani marriage to a volatile nadir. And yet the drone policy, like the drones themselves, remains out of the limelight.

YEMEN

Lessons for the Future

The first lethal drone strike outside a war zone took place in Yemen in 2002; and in 2011, the Obama administration announced plans to begin an aggressive new drone-warfare campaign in Yemen directed against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).29 Yemen is currently in turmoil as the various opposition movements to strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh jostle against remnants of the regime and one another after months of a long and inconclusive Arab Spring uprising.30

The new Yemeni drone campaign comes at the very moment former CIA director Leon Panetta replaces Robert Gates as secretary of defense and General David Petraeus, former CENTCOM and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Afghanistan commander and a counterinsurgency proponent transitions into a civilian role: head of the CIA. During 2010, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) was central to the design of the new Yemeni drone program and this year has brought about increased cooperation.31 In June 2011, the CIA returned to the Horn of Africa to work with JSOC on the drone program, and outside observers have noted that the strategic confusion of divided command (drone counterterror in Pakistan vs. boots-on-the-ground counterinsurgency in Afghanistan) is an issue that may be mitigated by the high-level reshuffle.32

It is possible that the exchange of personnel among the military, the intelligence community and the Department of Defense will clear up the confusion over command and targeting, though this is far from given. The more serious forms of blowback stemming directly from the effects of extrajudicial killing, however, do not seem to have been addressed. If the Pakistani campaign spawned purposeful vengeance, like the Khost bombing, and opportunities for recruitment of noncombatants for retaliatory attacks, then the same purposeful and accidental escalation will most likely occur in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, compounding Yemen's and Somalia's volatility.

In many ways, Yemen resembles both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the undeclared drone war there will share the most dysfunctional characteristics of both sides of the Af/Pak theatre. Like Afghanistan, Yemen is a fragmented tribal society ideally suited for harboring pockets of militancy in a de-centered system with strong social ties.33 Like Pakistan, Yemen's military and the other institutions of a failing state may still function well enough to both channel counterterror funds from the United States and apply them according to its own interests and criteria.34 Another whisky-swilling military steeped in hypocrisy and addicted to counterterror as a way to make a living is hardly the ideal local spotter for U.S. attacks from the skies.35 Drone warfare as it has evolved in the Af/Pak theatre is not the answer to Yemen's unrest.

The lessons of drone warfare in Pakistan are clear. First, if extrajudicial dispatching of high-value targets is a goal, such targets are best dealt with as Osama bin Laden was — through face-to-face assaults by crack JSOC troops based on reliable intelligence. Second, chronic testing of national sovereignty through an undeclared war of drone attacks puts fragile governing structures in the target country under enormous pressure while exacerbating social volatility, a recipe for unpredictable outcomes.36 Third, the complacency engendered in the American public, which is largely blind to the costs and consequences of, and anesthetized to, the legal and moral issues of drone warfare, precludes recognition, let alone discussion of this new form of warfare. Finally, a trend in increasing "collateral damage" ­— in which thousands of noncombatants may be extrajudicially killed, traumatized and materially damaged — fuels instability and escalates violent retaliation against convenient targets. With Yemen and Somalia as the east-west axis of a maritime system that unites South Asia with the Horn of Africa through one of the world's most sensitive and pirate-infested shipping channels, counterterror measures must be both precise and well-reasoned. The Pakistani model is neither. Drone strikes leave little scope for the civic reform that the Arab Spring in Yemen demands.37

1 In his address to the nation on June 22, 2011, President Obama announced a planned withdrawal from Afghanistan. Only 10,000 troops are slated for withdrawal by the end of 2011 and another 23,000 by the end of 2012. "President Obama on the Way Forward in Afghanistan," accessed June 26, 2011, http://www.whitehouse.gov.blog/2011/06/22/president-obama-way-forward-afghanistan; and "Obama to Cut Afghanistan 'Surge' Troops," Al Jazeera, June 23, 2011, accessed June 26, 2011, https://docs.google.com/a/email.arizona.edu/document/d/1Off1hZ-qjkdfwcPcg5Klm41PUWllEGnnf65zbZ7lYUI/edit?hl=en_US.

2 Drone strikes are announced in the media, but neither the United States nor the Pakistani governments admit their roles in conducting these strikes. The covert nature of the drone program refers to the inability to clearly identify the agencies responsible for the missions.

3 Muhammad Idress Ahmad, "The Magical Realism of Body Counts," Al Jazeera, June 13, 2011, accessed June 15, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/06/2011613931606455.html.

4 Ronald Sokol, "Can the U.S. Assassinate an American Citizen Living in Yemen?" The Christian Science Monitor, September 29, 2010, accessed June 10, 2011, http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2010/0929/Can-the-US-assassinate-an-American-citizen-living-in-Yemen; and "A Better Way to Get Awlaki," Los Angeles Times, September 20, 2010, accessed June 10, 2011, http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/20/opinion/la-ed-awlaki-20100920.

5 David Kilcullen, The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One (Oxford University Press, 2009).

6 Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (Metropolitan Books, 2000).

7 Nathan Hodge, "Robo-Copters Eye Enemies," The Wall Street Journal, May 17, 2011, accessed May 12, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704281504576327602503154790.html?KEYWORDS=Robo-Copters+Eye+Enemies; and "Unmanned Fire Scout Helicopter to Begin Military Service," The Telegraph, August 29, 2009, accessed May 13, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/6092244/Unmanned-Fire-Scout-helicopter-to-begin-military-service.html.

8 "MQ-1 Predator," General Atomics Aeronautical, accessed January 17, 2011, http://www.ga-asi.com/products/aircraft/pdf/MQ-1_Predator.pdf; "Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper," General Atomics Aeronautical, accessed January 17, 2011, http://www.ga-asi.com/products/aircraft/pdf/Predator_B.pdf; "RQ-4 Global Hawk," Northrop Grumman, accessed May 15, 2011, http://www.as.northropgrumman.com/products/ghrq4a/assets/GHMD-New-Brochure.pdf; and "MQ-8B Fire Scout," Northrop Grumman, accessed May 28, 2011, http://www.as.northropgrumman.com/products/mq8bfirescout_navy/assets/firescout-new-brochure.pdf.

9 Syed Saleem Shahzad, Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 (Pluto, 2011); Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, 2nd Edition (Yale University Press, 2010).

10 Gretchen Peters, "Drone Said to Have Killed Al Qaeda's No. 3," The Christian Science Monitor, December 5, 2005, accessed February 20, 2011, http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1205/p04s02-wosc.html.

11 The Southwest Initiative for the Study of Middle Eastern Conflicts (SISMEC), housed in the School of Middle East and North African Studies at the University of Arizona, has compiled a drone database to track all U.S. drone attacks outside identified war zones.

12 "'U.S. Drone' Hits Pakistan Funeral," Al Jazeera, June 24, 2009, accessed December 12, 2010, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/06/20096244230395712.html; and Pir Zubair Shah and, Salman Masood, "U.S. Drone Strike Said to Kill 60 in Pakistan," The New York Times, June 23, 2009, accessed December 12, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/world/asia/24pstan.html.

13 Daud Khattak, "The Mysterious Death of Ilyas Kashmiri," Foreign Policy, June 8, 2011, accessed June 10, 2011, http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/06/08/the_mysterious_death_of_ilyas_kashmiri.

14 Saeed Shah, "U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan Claiming Many Civilian Victims, Says Campaigner," The Guardian, July 17, 2011, accessed July 20, 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/17/us-drone-strikes-pakistan-waziristan.

15 Ahmad, "The Magical Realism of Body Counts."

16 The numbers of deaths in Figure 2 have been taken from the SISMEC's drone database and represents the most conservative death toll. We have used the lowest death toll reported in any newspaper. We chose to use the lowest numbers to highlight the increasingly inaccurate nature of the drone program without embellishment.

17 Balawi believed the CIA used Camp Chapman to locate targets in the FATA for drone assassination. For more on al-Balawi, see: "CIA Bomber Vowing Revenge for Baitullah Mehsud's Death," YouTube, January 9, 2010, accessed May 10, 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB1NJ8zOOso; and Joby Warrick, The Triple Agent: The Al-Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA (Random House, 2011).

18 "Suicide Attack Database," Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism (CPOST), University of Chicago, accessed January 12, 2011, http://cpost.uchicago.edu/search.php; and "Database of Worldwide Terrorism Incidents," The RAND Corporation, accessed January 14, 2011, http://smapp.rand.org/rwtid/search_form.php.

19 Kilcullen divides the accidental guerrilla syndrome into four phases: infection, contagion, intervention, and rejection. Infection is aided by lack of governance in a specific region or country (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia) and allows violent movements the space to establish themselves. Contagion takes place when the movement spreads their ideals and increases violence to continue growing. Intervention is spurred by local or international forces trying to curb the movement, which leads to rejection. During the rejection phase the local population reacts negatively to the intervention, often bolstering recruitment and popularity of the movement.

20 Declan Walsh, "Taliban Use Girl, 8, as Bomb Mule in Attack on Afghan Police Post," The Guardian, June 26, 2011, accessed June 26, 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/26/afghanistan-taliban-girl-bomb-police.

21 Warren Chin, "Examining the Application of British Counterinsurgency Doctrine by the American Army in Iraq," Small Wars & Insurgencies, Vol. 18, No. 1 (2007): 1.

22 The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (University of Chicago Press, 2007).

23 "Pakistan Tells U.S. to Leave Secret Base," Press TV, June 29, 2011, accessed June 29, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/186804.html; and "Shamsi Air Base under UAE Control: Air Chief," The Nation, May 13, 2011, accessed June 30, 2011, http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Regional/Islamabad/13-May-2011/Shamsi-Air-Base-under-UAE-control-Air-Chief.

24 Adam Entous, Siobhan Gorman, and Matthew Rosenberg, "Drone Attacks Split U.S. Officials," The Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2011, accessed June 10, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304563104576363812217915914.html.

25 "Protest against American Drone Attacks in Northern Pakistan," The Telegraph, June 28, 2011, accessed June 28, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8586658/Protests-against-American-drone-attacks-in-northern-Pakistan.html; and "Pakistanis Protest against U.S. Drone Strikes," Al Jazeera, May 22, 2011, accessed June 28, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2011/05/201152262955326528.html.

26 Huma Imtiaz, "Angels of Death," Foreign Policy, May 31, 2011, accessed June 1, 2011, http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/05/31/angels_of_death.

27 Carotta Gall and Mark Mazzetti, "Hushed Deal Frees C.I.A. Contractor in Pakistan," The New York Times, March 16, 2011, accessed March 20, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/world/asia/17pakistan.html.

28 Jane Perlez and Ismail Khan, "Pakistan Tells U.S. It Must Sharply Cut CIA Activities," The New York Times, April 11, 2011, accessed May 12, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/world/asia/12pakistan.html?scp=17&sq=raymond%20davis&st=cse; and Mark Hosenball, "U.S. Rejects Demands to Vacate Pakistan Drone Base," Reuters, June 30, 2011, accessed June 30, 2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/30/us-pakistan-usa-drones-idUSTRE75T69120110630?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&rpc=71.

29 Mark Mazzetti, "U.S. Is Intensifying a Secret Campaign of Yemen Airstrikes," The New York Times, June 8, 2011, accessed June 10, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/09/world/middleeast/09intel.html?hp; and Jeb Boone, "Yemen's Trouble with Drones," The Christian Science Monitor, June 17, 2011, accessed June 20, 2011, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0617/Yemen-s-trouble-with-drones.

30 At the time of writing this article, Saleh was still in Saudi Arabia undergoing treatment for injuries received in a palace attack in early June 2011. Leila Hudson, and Dylan Baun, "The Arab Spring's Second Wave," Al Jazeera, May 16, 2011, accessed May 16, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/05/20115151582859118.html.

31 Con Coughlin and Philip Sherwell, "Americans Drones Deployed to Target Yemeni Terrorist," The Telegraph, May 02, 2010, accessed June 26, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/7663661/American-drones-deployed-to-target-Yemeni-terrorist.html.

32 Felicia Sonmez, "Leon Panetta, CIA Director, Unanimously Confirmed by Senate as Defense Secretary," The Washington Post, June 21, 2011, accessed June 22, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/national-security/leon-panetta-cia-director-unanimously-confirmed-by-senate-as-defense-secretary/2011/06/21/AGajizeH_story.html; Glenn Greenwald, "The War on Terror, Now Starring Yemen and Somalia," Salon, July 18, 2011, accessed July 20, 2011, http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/07/18/terrorism/index.html; Greg Miller, "CIA to Operate Drones over Yemen," The Washington Post, June 13, 2011 accessed June 21, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/national-security/cia-to-operate-drones-over-yemen/2011/06/13/AG7VyyTH_story.html.

33 Robert F. Worth, "Chaos in Yemen Creates Opening for Islamist Gangs," The New York Times, June 26, 2011, accessed June 27, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/world/middleeast/27yemen.html?_r=1; and "Militants Enforce Strict Islamic Law in Yemeni City," The Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2011, accessed June 28, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303627104576411911591751014.html?mod=googlenews_wsj.

34 Hakim Almasmari, "U.S. Drone Attacks in Yemen Ignore Al Qaeda for Local Militants," The National, June 21, 2011, accessed June 23, 2011, http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/us-drone-attacks-in-yemen-ignore-al-qaeda-for-local-militants.

35 Nick Allen, "WikiLeaks: Yemen Covered Up U.S. Drone Strikes," The Telegraph, June 28, 2011, accessed June 28, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/8166610/WikiLeaks-Yemen-covered-up-US-drone-strikes.html.

36 Boone, "Yemen's Trouble with Drones."

37 Mohammed Al-Qadhi, "Tens of Thousands in Yemen's Streets Call for Transitional Presidential Council," The Washington Post, June 26, 2011, accessed June 26, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/tens-of-thousands-in-yemens-streets-call-for-transitional-presidential-council/2011/06/26/AG1jeYmH_story.html.

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