But without an international framework governing the use of drone attacks, the United States is setting a dangerous precedent for other nations with its aggressive and secretive drone programs in Pakistan and Yemen, which are aimed at suspected members of al Qaeda and their allies….
Just as the U.S. government justifies its drone strikes with the argument that it is at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates, one could imagine that India in the not too distant future might launch such attacks against suspected terrorists in Kashmir, or China might strike Uighur separatists in western China, or Iran might attack Baluchi nationalists along its border with Pakistan.
This moment may almost be here. China took the United States by surprise in November 2010 at the Zhuhai Air Show, where it unveiled 25 drone models, some of which were outfitted with the capability to fire missiles….Only the United States, United Kingdom and Israel are known to have launched drone strikes against their adversaries, although other members of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, such as Australia, have “borrowed” drones from Israel for use in the war there….
While the drone industry thrives and more companies, research institutes and nations jump on board the drone bandwagon, the United States is setting a powerful international norm about the use of armed drones, which it uses for pre-emptive attacks against presumed terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen. It is these kinds of drone strikes that are controversial; the use of drones in a conventional war is not much different than a manned aircraft that drops bombs or fires missiles.