U.S.-Drones Strikes: Acts of Terror, Violence, or Coercion?

  • Bettina KochEmail author
Part of the Staat – Souveränität – Nation book series (SSN)


While state terrorism as a crime does not exist in international law, it does not mean that it does not exist as a social fact. This essay analyses whether the US-drone strikes, particularly in the tribal regions of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan, qualify as acts of terror, violence, or coercion. Particularly, it focusses on the distinction between individual strikes, which are supposed to target a person whose identity is known, and signature strikes. The latter are based on a person’s behavior patterns and are consider far more controversial than the individual strikes. For the empirical data, the essay relies primarily on the Stanford Law School’s Living under Drones project. In addition, based on a US Department of Justice White Paper that went public in February 2013, the essay analyses who is considered as an “imminent threat of violent attack” and who has the authority to identify persons who qualify as an imminent threat. Because the US-drone strikes are operating exterritorial, the essay is framed by the question of national and territorial sovereignty.


White Paper Imminent Threat Legal Justification Tribal Leader Lethal Force 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceVirginia Polytechnic Institute & State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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