CISS Webinar | Raising the Standard: Near Certainty and Civilian Harm in Pakistan
Raising the Standard: Near Certainty and Civilian Harm in Pakistan
In 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a policy to minimize civilian casualties resulting from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. The policy calibrated Obama’s approval of strikes against the “near” certainty standard of no civilian casualties, which shifted from the existing policy of “reasonable” certainty that allowed for a degree of civilian harm. We provide an economic interpretation of the effectiveness of Obama’s near certainty standard. Based on data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as well as interviews with senior officials, we use a regression discontinuity design to find that the near certainty standard dramatically reduced civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. We estimate that the policy prevented 284 civilian deaths, amounting to an averted ‘Value of Statistical Life’ loss of 90 to 250 million USD.
Sarah Kreps is the John L. Wetherill Professor of Government, Adjunct Professor of Law, and Director of the Tech Policy Lab at Cornell University. She is also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Paul Lushenko is a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and General Andrew Jackson Goodpaster Scholar at Cornell University, where he is pursuing a PhD in International Relations (ABD). He commissioned as a Military Intelligence Officer in 2005 following graduation from the United States Military Academy as a Distinguished Honor Graduate.
Shyam Raman is a doctoral candidate at the Cornell University Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and a Senior Fellow at the Cornell Tech Policy Lab.
Aug 5, 2022 12:00 PM in Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney