The use of unmanned planes, called drones, is the subject of increasing criticism. President Barack Obama, with the goal of calming public opinion both in the United States and worldwide, clarified the conditions under which these armed robotic platforms operate. At the present time, they are the preferred weapons for attacking suspected terrorists.

Obama said that the use of drones constitutes a legitimate weapon in a “just war.” It is reasonable to wonder how the campaign against the jihadist organizations in various nations can be classified as a war. In actuality, it is a campaign against small militant cores. Dangerous, yes, but there will always be groups that resort to terrorism, and that does not permit talk about war and all that comes along with it. Obama himself admitted in his speech that the United States cannot allow a “perpetual” war, be it one with drone attacks or Special Forces operations. In the end, it is a “war” that has already been going on for 12 years since its beginning after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The president warned that to persist in perpetuating the war would be counterproductive.

The counterproductive aspect is that these attacks launched at sovereign countries provoke much animosity, as in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The deaths of civilians in the course of the attacks has unleashed large anti-American movements. The presence of drones, even those simply for observation, causes much anxiety in the regions in which they operate. In short, killing suspected enemies without a proper trial, even with the purpose of preventing a suspected attack, is beyond human rights. It is enough to consider the number of misidentifications that the standard courts make in everyday circumstances. Where does the intelligence guiding the attacks come from? In many cases, it is not uncommon for paid agents or informants to have their own agents. The margin of error is enormous. Obama did not declare in vain that he would not allow drone use in his country.

There were four criteria mentioned regarding the regulations that will govern the use of these weapons in the future. One, having the “near certainty” that the target is present and that the attack will not result in civilian injury or death. Two, arrest is not possible. Three, the authorities of the country in question are not able or are not ready to confront the threat. Four, no other alternatives exist. In any case, drone attacks have decreased in recent times. However, as Obama noted, drones will continue to be used. From Washington’s perspective, the drone is the ideal weapon, permitting attacks on remote enemies who operate in inaccessible regions and most importantly, do not run the risk of losses that bring a high political cost.