Infographic: A Map Of America’s 284 Drone Strikes Against Pakistan

Last week Slate republished its interactive infographic of drone strikes against Pakistan, reflecting the dozens of new strikes that have occurred since June.

Obama and Romney may have spent plenty of time debating the relative merits of bayonets and battleships during the debates, but they devoted only a couple of seconds to the topic that divides even Obama supporters: drone warfare.

Those who object to drone strikes—there have been over 284 of them in Pakistan since 2008—usually do so on either moral or constitutional grounds (or both). Many legal scholars argue that drone strikes go beyond POTUS’s executive power, or represent a violation of international human rights. Moral critics compare drone warfare to a "video game" for soldiers, arguing that it creates an unhealthy psychological distance between a drone operator and the people he’s killing; then there are the frequent instances of collateral damage that strikes cause, often in the form of civilian deaths. At the same time, there are plenty of pro-drone Americans who see Obama’s so-called "kill list" as an effective, neat way to deal with a war against a nonstate entity, e.g., terrorists.

Whatever your stance on drone killings, the fact remains that there’s been very little national dialogue on the topic. Indeed, some would say that’s a direct result of the main problem with the policy: Its complete lack of transparency. A 5,000 word exposé on drone warfare that ran in the New York Times in June did a bit to help bolster attention to the policy, but as we saw in the debates, it remains woefully under the radar (so to speak) of the American consciousness.

Slate’s interactive editor Chris Kirk has done a fine job of parsing the data behind the controversial policy, via an interactive infographic he’s been working on since June. "Obama’s 284 Drone Strikes in Pakistan" pulls data from the New America Foundation, a bipartisan nonprofit that counts Eric Schmidt as the chairman of its board of directors. The map illustrates how drone strikes have increased since Bush’s presidency, but it also uses a concentric circle system to show how civilians killed (in proportion to terrorists killed) have decreased under Obama. In other words, drone killings have gotten cleaner and more precise, if much more frequent.

A few weeks ago, a debate at Fordham Law pitted pro- and anti-drone legal scholars against each other in a heated debate. Whatever your politics, it’s hard not to agree with Professor Martin Flaherty, who said, "The problem is we—as a democratic self-governing people—don’t know enough to make intelligent decisions about the balance between security payoff and violation of individuals’ rights. We need to know more about this."

Add New Comment


  • lewy14

    Maybe drone strikes are more "precise" under Obama because he decided that every military age male killed is a terrorist, period.

    Dick Cheney wishes that he'd thought of that.

  • Honte

    The biased ethics of Americans: they have the right to kill no matter who in no matter what country, without trial, on the mere suspicion that those people could be hostile against Americans (or against puppet governments promoted by Americans). Oh, and what about the hundred of civilian casualties? Abominable.

  • Kramer11

    Seems Kelsey got a Paki boyfriend and she is in love. Only a mindless person can side with the epicenter of global terror and the nuclear walmart, not to mention the sponsor of Taliban/Al Qaeda and attacks on US servicemen. 

  • ay3sha

    Kramer11, you are such a dumbass, its kind of hard to believe. Speaking of mindless persons, where is your mind? The only thing Kelsey is doing is highlighting the fact that there is not enough information/transparency on the subject. To be honest, I was expecting something more controversial from this piece.


    A "Paki"

  • Dan

    I do not believe that Kelsey really took a side on this issue. She is merely stating that the issue needs to be explored further. 

  • Croc Ography

    Cannot wait to see the drone strike map for the USA... oh wait that would be wrong. (it amazes me to think of how many frightening weapons have been used by the US and Israel over the last 15 years... truly the worst countries within our humanity)

  • Larrybodinenow

    284 drone strikes is not enough. The Taliban and Al-Quaeda are a persistent and active enemy of citizens worldwide.

  • Croc Ography

    I find you comment irresposible and detrimental to being human. It is the US who is the aggressor here not the people of Pakistan.