The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of targeted killings through US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen by comparing the yearly levels of US drone strikes in each country with yearly levels of terrorist incidents. Based on the literature, the theoretical argument in support of US drone strikes is that they are a quick, easy, and proportional tool in the war on terror. However, recently arguments against the effectiveness of drone strikes have begun to be popularized. Many contend that drone strikes carry a huge risk of blowback both in the form of violence and increased terrorist recruitment. A comparative case study, using data of yearly drone strikes and terrorist incidents in Pakistan and Yemen is utilized to conduct this study. Data is compiled for the years 2007 to 2017 for Pakistan, and 2010 to 2017 for Yemen. Based on the analysis, it was shown that both sides of the drone strike debate have merits. On the one hand, drone strikes have been effective at disrupting terrorist organizations and killing operatives. On the other hand, there have been large amounts of civilian casualties, some blowback events directly associated with drone strikes, and most importantly, the terrorist groups that are targeted continue to work. Overall, there was some evidence that supported the argument of short-term benefits from drone strikes. In the long term, however, the bulk of the evidence did not show support for the hypothesis of a long-term increase in terrorist violence


N'Diaye, Boubacar


Political Science


Arts and Humanities

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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