Regarding the work of Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, it is important to understand the emerging issues of drones in our modern society. Agamben brings forth several ideas about bare life, and the right to life. He aims to connect the issues of power, politics and social ethics. I will also discuss the issue of the United States (US) using drones as a common means of investigation and military tactics. In addition, it is important to discuss the issues of sovereignty as explained by Agamben and help one understand the drone policy of the U.S. Additionally, it is also important to note how the United States continues to use drones for military proposes even through this is a human rights issue.
This paper will also adopt a critical approach on the use of drones and why the United States continues to use this tool. Furthermore, by discussing Agamben’s theories it serves a purpose for a theoretical foundation in order to better understand the ongoing debate about the use of drones. When it comes to the use of military drones, the decisions are made by the United States armed forces. The U.S military defines a ‘drone as a land, sea or air vehicle which is remotely or automatically controlled, however, it is referred also known as an unmanned aerial vehicle (Chamayou 11).
Although, drones are a common tool in the military, there are a variety of drones at the U.S’s disposal. This may include terrestrial drones, marine drones, submarine drones and subterranean drones all of these are classified as drones. A drone is usually controlled from a distance by an army personnel who controls the drone. The most common type of drone is Reapers/Predators which are armed with bombs and missiles, are deployed in the air and create the most destruction.
Additionally, a drone can also be controlled autonomously also known as automatic piloting (Chamayou 11). In modern times, both of these methods are commonly used especially by the U.S. Drone strikes are used to neutralize suspected terrorists. The majority of the American public is divided on this issue of using drones. However, many countries, such as Pakistani, Afghanistan and Iraq etc. are very much against the U.S.
drone strikes. Nevertheless, drones remain the weapon of choice for the American military. Drones became popular during the Bush Administration in the early 2000’s.
The U.S government used them to attack hundreds of targets. It is likely that drones will continue to be popular with the new Trump administration. The strategic and tactical advantage of drones are a common reason as to why they are the most popular method to fight terrorists and they separate the operator from the device “especially at a great distance (such as most US drones being operated out of an air force base in Nevada) while conducting strikes in Pakistan” (McFarlane). Regardless of the moral or ethical questions, drone strikes not only have negative effects on people but also on the environment and are public health concerns. However, many of the drones sent are deployed to peaceful countries. “These machines are deployed not only in zones of armed conflict, such as Afghanistan, but also in countries officially at peace, such as Somalia, Yemen and above all Pakistan” (Chamayou 13).
The Central Intelligence agency (CIA) carries out on average one strike every four days (Chamayou 13). Furthermore, “in Pakistan alone estimate of the number of deaths between 2004 and 2012 vary from 2,640 to 3,474 (Chamayou 13). Lastly, drones have received a lot of publicity about their usage and have received some criticisms.One could argue that drones help as they focus force on one given area as well as they minimize the effects of civilians. “The real advantage of unmanned aerial systems is that they allow you to project power without projecting vulnerability” (Chamayou 12).
Therefore, one deploys force without seeing the enemy. The use of this weapon has increased ‘by 1,200 percent from 2004 and 2012’ (Chamayou 13). In the U.S, there are more drone operators than pilots of fighter planes and bombers combined. Consequently, drones became very important during Barack Obama’s Presidency. He used more drone strikes in comparison to George W.
Bush. Drone strikes may be an efficient method to kill terrorists, but they don’t foster good international relations and they create more tension. Although drones have succeeded in killing terrorists, this doesn’t mean that they are working as the threat of terrorism remains at an all-time high. During Obama’s administration, there was a heavy reliance on targeted drone strikes which did not reduce the number of Islamic extremists and terrorists. The widespread use of drones has created a backlash from the international community and could ultimately encourage other countries to use drones for military purposes.One must look at the legal principles that drones undermine a state’s sovereignty, “a background of fundamental destabilization such as this, formulas for redefining a sovereign power over life and death” (Chamayou 17). It is important to discuss Agamben and his views of lethal power.
His views represent the opposite end of the spectrum due to the way in which they can only acknowledge the influence of sovereign power. For example, Agamben could view increased security procedure in airports as an evidence of sovereign power which has expanded the reach of the government. Furthermore, sovereign power, established itself through the production of a political order based on the exclusion of bare, human life. Therefore, with the use of drones, law is suspended and is withdrawn from an individual as their legal statues is stripped to the sovereign power into a bare life without rights (Agamben). Thus, bare life is encompassed in the exception and then inhabits the threshold of the juridicio-polticial community. By examining the way drones are used by a country, one could view that any security technology is a tool used by a sovereign power.
Agamben, would view any type of security as a tool reducible to the goals of a sovereign’s power.