Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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Obama’s Drone Warfare Legacy

by Micah Zenko
January 12, 2016

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement at the National Counterterrorism Center in Mclean, Virginia, on December 17, 2015. (Barria/Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement at the National Counterterrorism Center in Mclean, Virginia, on December 17, 2015. (Barria/Reuters)

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Today, I have a short piece in the New York Times’ “Room for Debate,” accurately summarized by its title, “Obama’s Embrace of Drone Strikes Will Be a Lasting Legacy.” The piece shows how President Barack Obama institutionalized and normalized the use of drones to target various militant and terrorist suspects. It also includes the most updated data of post-9/11 non-battlefield drone strikes, updating our estimates from the five-hundredth such operation conducted in November 2014. As of today, there have been approximately 550 strikes—50 under George W. Bush, 500 under Obama, which have cumulatively killed an estimated 3,405 militants and 470 civilians. This information is fully presented in the chart below with the sources used.

Sources: New America Foundation (NAF); Long War Journal (LWJ); The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) ** Based on averages within the ranges provided by the organizations monitoring each country as of January 11, 2016.

Sources: New America Foundation (NAF); Long War Journal (LWJ); The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ)
** Based on averages within the ranges provided by the organizations monitoring each country as of January 11, 2016.

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