Stratfor has a very interesting post up where they discuss different aspects of UAV warfare. Apart from such aspects as pointing out that according to the Geneva convention conflict forces have to be identifiable or face the consequences and arguing that this is the reason that the collateral damage of attacks on non-military actors can be laid at those actors’ feet, they leave the reader with this:
The problem of unmanned aerial vehicles is that they are so effective from the U.S. point of view that they have become the weapon of first resort. Thus, the United States is being drawn into operations in new areas with what appears to be little cost. In the long run, it is not clear that the cost is so little. A military strategy to defeat the jihadists is impossible. At its root, the real struggle against the jihadists is ideological, and that struggle simply cannot be won with Hellfire missiles. A strategy of mitigation using airstrikes is possible, but such a campaign must not become geographically limitless. Unmanned aerial vehicles lead to geographical limitlessness. That is their charm; that is their danger.
Stratfor qualify very much for the “reality-based world view” label: they may be blinkered by ideology but they face up to the facts, whether it’s w.r.t. the “Arab Spring”, EMU crisis dynamics or the US’ war on terror.