Drones Reduce Civilian Deaths
They're far better at that than any other military weapon: William Saletan
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2013 1:06 PM CST
File photo a US Predator drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini, Pool, File)

(Newser) – Critics of the growing use of drone strikes by the Pentagon often point to civilian casualties as an argument against them. Sorry, writes William Saletan at Slate, but drones are far better than any other weapon of war at minimizing the deaths of innocents. What's more, they've gotten markedly better in just the last few years, with a precision that rivals laparoscopic surgery when compared with standard airstrikes. Drones, he writes, are "the worst form of warfare in the history of the world, except for all the others."

Consider that the highest estimate of civilian deaths caused by drones between 2010 and 2012 is 172. Against 1,616 total fatalities, that amounts to a civilian casualty rate of 12%. Go back and compare that percentage to previous wars, with rates of 70% (Korea) and higher. Saletan has reservations about drone strategy, including mission creep. "But civilian casualties? That’s not an argument against drones. It’s the best thing about them." Click for Saletan's full column.