World leaders have always had the pesky problem of gaining public approval, or at least garnering enough apathy, in order to engage in a war. This is an important check the people have on the power and authority of any nations leader. War should always be an absolute last resort, preferably only in defense against aggression and only then when conflict is unavoidable. If your citizens are not too keen to march in step with the drums of war, there is likely a very good reason to continue negotiations in order to avoid the conflict. Of course, there are plenty of examples of leaders creating a narrative to incite the public's desire for war when there previously was none but true justification for war is hard to find. They have been started for all sorts of greedy, unnecessary reasons, money, land, oil, prestige, religious zealotry, but none that I am aware of have been initiated for purely humanitarian purposes. Even taking into account the "moral war" of WWII, most of the world ignored Hitler's treatment of the Jews until he started mucking around with other countries. Only then of then did it become one of the moral linchpins in the justification of WWII.
From an American President's perspective, engaging in war is expensive, politically costly, and difficult to justify without a severe and dramatic catalyst. (Pearl Harbor, 9/11). Drone strikes give a welcome anonymity to military operations. The United States and several of its allies use drone strikes with little fear of accountability for their actions. For whatever reason, not many stories on the very real effects of drone strikes to the local population are ever shown on the cable news networks, unless it is a celebrated successful strike to a high value target. Whistle-blowers and ex-drone operators who are appalled at the program are given little press and even when they do have a major media outlet cover them, people don't really seem to want to know about it. The public (to a significant fault of its own) has little or passing knowledge of the ongoing drone war and has even less input on what capacity, location and circumstance we should be using them at all.
With the only dead bodies involved in a drone strike being enemy combatants, there is even less pressure from home to release information on drone activity. There is no grieving mother for a fallen drone so there is no public outcry as to why or who we are fighting for/against. To make matters worse the drones are not as surgical as we might be led to believe. Innocent bystanders are killed pretty routinely, causality estimates for civilians, including women and children are easily in the hundreds during 2004-2016. The United States of America conducts drone strikes in Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan that we know of.
As an example The Bureau of Investigative Journalism gives this alarming data set for Pakistan alone.
Pakistan Since 2004
Most recent strike: May 21 2016
Total strikes: 424 Obama strikes: 373 Total killed: 2,499-4,001 Civilians killed: 424-966 Children killed: 172-207 Injured: 1,161-1,744
Perhaps all these strikes are an absolute necessity. Perhaps our national security is truly at stake. Perhaps without the ruthless use of America's military drones we would be forced into a traditional ground war that could eventually lead to global conflict and cost countless lives.
It is equally likely, however, that we are simply creating new waves of terrorists who want nothing more than to destroy the nation that flew drones over their heads and ripped bullets through their village. There is a cost to these operations, the image of the United States as a moral guide, protector of freedom through out the world is a hard pill to swallow when you take into account the collateral damage from drone strikes. You could say the strikes are a new American export, America has become synonymous with the concept of drone warfare during the last decade.
The problem I am addressing here isn't even the obvious question of whether or not the use of drones is even ethical, the problem I am addressing with drones is there is no public discourse over their use, no public accountability, the public seems to have barely even a cursory knowledge of their activities. We have no voice on the matter, due to a combination of censorship and willful blindness.
Power unchecked is power corrupted.
For now our use of drones may be a necessary evil, but it is a short distance from strong armed protector to oppressive force in the world. We the people must take steps to educate ourselves on what our nation is really doing, we have to actually get involved in the direction we are headed. The alternative is to wake up one day and realize we have become an even larger version of the imperialist nation we fought so hard to be free of.
Some links to information on the ongoing drone wars.