Game of Drones: A Critical English School inquiry of U.S. Drone Policy, Transparency and Responsibility

Simon Heilbuth, Mikkel Dahlgaard, Anette Bastviken & Minja Derkovic

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


Abstract In a lengthily article from The New York Times a picture is portrayed of the National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilton, Counterterrorism advisor John O. Brennan and President Barack Obama at the Oval Office, discussing who their next targets should be taken out by armed drones. Proclaiming to use a ‘smart power’ strategy in foreign policies, the actions of the administration seem to speak many voices. Opening up a friendly hand to the Middle-East, winning the Peace Prize, and focusing on more diplomatic relations seems to contract the unilateral actions of their drone-policy in Pakistan. Obama declared that Guantanamo Bay in Cuba would be closed down. He also spoke out, criticizing Bush’s strategy on the war against terrorism and promised more transparency in his own politics. This project is sees a certain contradiction in President Barack Obama and the Administration’s actions and their rhetoric’s. Applying a critical English School inquiry, this project empirically studies the use of armed drones in the FATA area of Pakistan to acquire knowledge on how this may consequently be violating the International Law. The English School theoretical approach of analysis captures the justifying arguments by the U.S., and the counter-arguments from an International Law perspective. This questions whether the legal political interpretation of the law constitutes as an armed conflict or is under the legal regime of international humanitarian law. Through an investigative research of the United Nations Charter, Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law, we also examine whether the drone strikes in Pakistan are jeopardizing the current norms of International Law from a normative English School perspective. Critically using this school of thought also opens up to the fact that it cannot picture the whole reality. Therefore, a neorealist perspective is applied as a critique. The findings in this project are that many of the actions of the Administration conflicts with International law and have neorealist tendencies. This brings up questions of respect of sovereignty and political transparency and if Obama is leading the type of presidency, which he rhetorically set forth to the world. This project concludes that Obama’s actions in Pakistan change the normative standpoints in how to conduct foreign policy with regards to the norms and principles in International Law and the respect of external sovereignty. By acting unilateral, the U.S. drone-policy might end up changing the norms of international law and give precedence for other states to conduct same policies, which may create disorder in international society.

UddannelserGlobal Studies, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor el. kandidat
Udgivelsesdato18 dec. 2012


  • Pakistan
  • The English School
  • The Obama Administration
  • Drones