The impact of drones in the counterterror campaign is hard to overstate: terror groups, like many organizations, develop into global threats not because they can recruit suicide bombers but because they have leaders with vision, capability, commitment, and experience. Tactical leaders might view a local government as their primary adversary; strategic leaders, from Osama bin Laden to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq to Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, have broader horizons. They see the United States and its allies as the root of their problems, and they inspire groups to respond to their vision. Like it or not, they are leaders.
In warzones, drones are another tool to eliminate this leadership. Like bullets from rifled weapons that are more accurate for sniper killings than mini-balls from muskets; like tanks that pack more firepower than infantry; like advances in aircraft that proved so devastating against German cities during World War II. Drones, too, are another advance in the way we can strike an adversary with lethal force, a more surgical, high-tech way to kill an enemy in a warzone, but another weapon in the machine of war nonetheless.