National Drone Weapon Protocol

Winged robotic weapons are the greatest change in warfare since the ICBM. Atomic weapon protocol after Hiroshima and Nagasaki was set not
by the United States nor the U.N. but by world events. The six nations that developed nuclear missiles drew upon the MAD doctrine (mutually
assured destruction) to construct a “defensive use only” protocol that has
been de facto for more than 50 years. The two countries declaring an
“offensive use” protocol (Iran and the DPRK) do not take into account the
MAD doctrine and its consequences. These penalties are (1) pre-emptive
strikes, (2) multi-national retaliatory strikes, and (3) combined nuclear
and conventional retaliatory strikes. History is probably going to support
the established atomic weapons protocol.

Winged avian robots are not in the fictive Asimovian tales
about robotic machine intelligence. “Adam Link” will probably be an avian robot rather than an android ground trooper. The President and
members of Congress understand the need for a uniform code to modify the killing of humans by drones. [source: Peter Baker, N.Y.TIMES, 5-28-13]

What is the debate here? Do you have anything to say in your own words?

Use of drones is already subject to the same codes as other U.S. military operations, such as the Geneva Convention. What further code is necessary?


Thanks for your reply. A national drone weapon protocol IS the debate.

Human Inaction,

Thanks for answering. After Hiroshima the U.S. had 4 years as the only atomic power.
Then the Soviets exploded an A-bomb in 1949 and atomic weapons went viral.
Well do you think the world is going to sit back and let us rule the firmament with our
drone monopoly? This is the time and the place to set an example about whom to kill
and not to kill with winged robots. This is the time to decide WHO will do the killing.
The CIA ? the JCS ? the Oval Office ? the FBI ? We need a central authority to make
the killing decisions and to take the responsibility for targeting errors.


Ok, I think I understand what you’re getting at there. Some of those decisions have already been made; the drones are used as part of military or quasi-military (CIA) and not law-enforcement operations, for instance.

As to their use, I don’t know that we do need a central authority. The military and the CIA have different needs and roles. What good would a central authority do if it had to approve both a battlefield drone strike on a Taliban mortar crew in Afghanistan, and a targeting killing of a suspected al-Qaeda leader in Yemen?

So, do mean a central authority for non-battlefield use only?

What does the OP suppose is the difference between killing someone with a “winged robot” and killing them with a missile strike from a manned aerial vehicle, and why should the latter require special policies not applicable to the former?

Right, that’s what I was trying to get at: the drones themselves are just weapons, it’s the targets that are controversial.

I don’t see drones to be nearly as big a game changer as you seem to be suggesting. The only difference between them and conventional aircraft is that drones don’t put pilots lives at risk. I don’t worry about the Chinese or Russians getting Drone technology and bombing us in our beds for the same reason I don’t worry about them sending conventional aircraft, namely that we have a strong air defense and doing so would have severe consequences for the countries that sent them.

The real debate over drones is how they are being used, which has been moved towards assassination. Admittedly the fact that they don’t put pilots lives at risk means that we run the risk of using them too freely, but again its not really a game changer, certainly not to the extent that the ICBM and Mutually Assured Destruction was.

Exactly right. A drone strike is justified or not justified in exactly the same cases that a bombing strike by a manned aircraft would be justified. If it wouldn’t be justified to send an F-15 to drop a bomb on the target, then it wouldn’t be justified to send a Predator. Whether the pilot of the aircraft is sitting in the aircraft or remotely on the ground doesn’t make any difference.

Even if the drone is fully autonomous and not remotely piloted, the difference is minimal. Then the “pilot”, the guy who pulls the trigger, is the guy who creates the mission for the drone. Just like the guy responsible when a fully autonomous landmine goes off is the guy who buried the landmine.

Also to address the worry that since we’re sending drones to bomb people in other countries, those countries will send drones over here to bomb us. Yes, this is worrisome. If Al Qaida or whoever had armed drones that could fly to the United States they would surely be using them to bomb us.

But they’d also bomb us if they had combat aircraft. Or trucks filled with explosives. Or hijacked civilian aircraft. The fact that we’re using aircraft to bomb them isn’t what is going to give them the idea to bomb us. They already have that idea. The reason they aren’t going to use drones to bomb us any time soon is the same reason they aren’t buying up old Soviet Era heavy bombers and dropping high explosives on New York. It’s harder than it looks.

It’s a lot easier and cheaper to fill a truck with explosives and drive it into the target than it is to pilot a drone to shoot a missile at the target, and this will be true even in coming decades when drones will be a lot cheaper. The expensive part will be the missile.

Look, the whole point of all this is, you have a pile of explosives and you want to put those explosives in the right place and have them explode. A missile launched by a drone is one way. A bomb dropped from a combat aircraft is another way. A rocket fired from the ground is another way. A truck filled with ANFO is another way. A guy with a suicide vest is another way.

The reason Russia and China aren’t going to be sending drones to bomb us is the same reason they aren’t currently sending bombers and missiles to bomb us. That’s, you know, war. And we aren’t bombing Russia and China either, and if we ever conduct a drone strike on Russian or Chinese territory it will be with the permission of those governments.

We aren’t bombing anyone with drones that we wouldn’t bomb with conventional aircraft. And nobody is going to bomb us with drones unless they’re willing to bomb us conventionally.

Also, such a plan might backfire on them.

Frankly, I’ve never understood the concept of ‘rules of war’. If you’ve decided it’s worth killing people to achieve some goal I see no need to be squeamish about it. I’m not advocating war, or deliberately killing innocent people, but hesitating to use any means that will end a war sooner and as a result minimize the degree of death and destruction just seems stupid. I think this applies to drones, we should be concerned about the need to use them, but not hesitate to use them if the cause is justified.

The “Rules of War” aren’t ways to make it harder to win a war. They are ways to make it easier to win a war. For instance, if someone surrenders you don’t shoot them. Why? Because if you always shoot prisoners, why would anyone surrender? You WANT the enemy soldiers to surrender, that’s the whole point of the war. You’re trying to make the other side give up and do what you want them to do.

War isn’t just killing and destroying for no reason. I mean, some people kill and destroy for no reason, sure. But killing and destroying for fun isn’t war. War is using violence to achieve some political, social or economic objective. Maybe you want your neighbor’s sheep. Maybe he doesn’t want you to take his sheep, and would rather take your sheep. Maybe you don’t just want his sheep, you want his pasture too. Or his home, or his daughters, or his labor. Or you want to stop him from trying that shit on you.

Maybe you’ll have to kill him and his buddies to achieve this goal. But trying to kill people is, you know, dangerous. So it’s even better if you threaten to kill him if he doesn’t surrender and then he surrenders.

The whole point of the rules of war is that usually the war isn’t going to end with one side winning, and everyone on the other side dead. They’re going to still be alive, and you’ve got to deal with them after the war. Take for example China wanting to annex Taiwan. What’s the point of annexing Taiwan if you have to kill everyone on Taiwan to get it? “Taiwan” isn’t just the land, it’s the people and infrastructure. You want to conquer them and make them work for you. Sure, you could kill them all and bulldoze the buildings, and turn the island into a nature preserve, or move your own people in. That sometimes happens. But generally the value of X acres of empty land isn’t very high compared to the cost of murdering everyone who lives there and destroying all their stuff. They don’t want to be murdered, and will try to kill and destroy your guys and your stuff while you’re exterminating them.

So take for example our war with Afghanistan. We could exterminate everyone who lives in Afghanistan, and that would end the threat posed by the Taliban. Is that what you’re proposing? No, I imagine you’re thinking of just killing the Taliban. Except who are they? Are there X Taliban in the country, and once we’ve killed all of them the war is over? Or does the number change? Can someone in a village decide to help the Taliban one day and help the Americans a different day? What makes them decide this? If we think they might one day help the Taliban should we just shoot them now? Will that make other villagers more likely to help us or more likely to help the Taliban?

The notion that a war is merely an exercise of piling up a bunch of people and weapons on one side of a sportsfield, and piling up the enemy’s people and weapons on the other side, and they fight until everyone on one side or the other is dead is extremely pernicious. Yeah, you don’t like fuzzy and possibly unattainable goals like winning hearts and minds and prefer concrete goals like shooting people. Except how do you know you’re shooting the right people?

I’m not speaking of ‘rules of war’ intended to end wars earlier and make the results more useful, I’m speaking of those ideas that one way of killing a person is preferable to another, simply to cater to the delicate sensibilities of those who are not even participating.

So we should just slaughter anyone who surrenders? It’d be much more efficient than interning them. Don’t have to leave any troops behind to guard them.

Hmmm. I wonder what the enemy will do when some of our boys and girls surrender?

Our enemies have rarely cared what we’ve done with their POWs. And I’m not suggesting to do anything unproductive to the end of winning the war.

Really? Germany didn’t care if we exterminated German POWs?

And you know, how we treated detainees at Guantanamo Bay was a huge topic all over the world, not just in America but in Islamic countries too. I mean, you could argue that the people who complain about our treatment of detainees do so for cynical reasons and they don’t really care, they’re just putting on a show of caring. But if nobody cared then why would the put on a show of caring?

Again, if you think surrendering to American forces will get you killed or tortured, then you probably aren’t going to surrender any time soon. If a war isn’t going to last forever then it has to end sometime, and that means that people have to stop fighting. Maybe they’ll stop fighting because everyone on one side who wanted to fight is now dead. But more usually people stop fighting because they don’t see the point in continuing to fight, and they think they’ll be better off if they stop fighting.

(1) Right now there are two types: reconnaissance and/or attack. An attack
protocol is needed only for those carrying weapons.

(2) Drone brain chip intelligence is increasing exponentially. They can take
turns following a ground target. They can record and download terabytes of
graphic data. They can keep a mobile ground target highlighted for days.
They can use infrared imaging at night. They can analyze an individual’s actions
and movements and classify them as terrorist or nonterrorist.

(3) In the near future, drones will be able to exchange information and they will
be capable of operating independently of a ground controller. In perhaps 5 years
drones will have decision-making abilities.

The above are some of the reasons we need a debate and a protocol for letting
drones kill humans… whether American citizens, Mexican cartel operatives, or
foreign terrorists.

…So basically, our OP is saying we need tighter restrictions on drones because he thinks they’re going to become self-aware and kill us all?


As opposed to the ICBM, which is a non-winged robotic weapon? Wings are what make drones so revolutionary? Drones are not revolutionary weapons, they don’t do anything a manned plane can’t do, and if you want to you could call the fins on the Hellfire missiles wings, so your greatest change in the history of warfare since the ICBM is firing the greatest change in warfare since the ICBM, and the ICBM itself is the greatest change in warfare since itself except it doesn’t have wings. It all gets very confusing.

You’ve got your history entirely wrong. MAD is not and never has been “defensive use only" protocol, Iran and the DPRK have never declared an “offensive use” protocol and both of them are perfectly capable of understanding the logic behind MAD. Again, if you missed it the first time, the US does not have a no first use policy and never has. A grand total of two countries, India and China, have publicly declared no first use policies. That’s it.