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Drones, as Washington’s prevailing wisdom goes, are the least messy weapon to deploy on a diffuse and disorganized global battlefield. They can surgically target terrorist organizations, depriving them of key leaders with, in theory, little collateral damage. After taking office in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama quietly expanded the use of drones, which began under President George W. Bush, targeting hundreds of suspected terrorists, mostly in Pakistan and Yemen.

While there has been skepticism about the use of drones from the beginning, Obama’s drone policies were subject to a more heated discussion the past year. The legality and effects of drone strikes have been litigated in Congress (domestic ramifications at least), in scholarly articles, both pro, and con, and most importantly by Obama, who discussed the issue in the most public detail in a speech at the National Defense University in May.

During that speech, where Obama called for an…

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