The Trump administration is looking to allow U.S. defense contractors to expand the sale of drones, including armed drones, worldwide. Advocates point to the economic benefits and suggest it will strengthen U.S. partnerships in the fight against terrorism, but their arguments are misguided.
In addition to bolstering authoritarian regimes, recent history suggests that selling drones comes with a big risk that the weapons will end up in the wrong hands, used for unintended and often deadly purposes. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for example, have both illegally transferred U.S. weapons to local militia and to other actors in Yemen, who have in turn sold them on the black market or lost them in battle. Sizable quantities of weapons and armored vehicles have wound up in the hands of both al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
This commentary originally appeared in the Washington Examiner on June 23, 2020