Presidential Use of Force in the Drone Age

42 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2014 Last revised: 17 Nov 2015

See all articles by Scott Boddery

Scott Boddery

Gettysburg College

Graig Klein

Binghamton University

Date Written: January 16, 2014


The diversionary hypothesis has advanced substantially and now recognizes that opportunities to use force diminish when a president’s need is greatest. Drone technology, however, now supplies presidents with an opportunity-creating tool. The War on Terror’s ever-present, stateless belligerents and the relatively insignificant operating costs of drone technology have fundamentally altered the cost-benefit calculus underlying use of force abroad allowing for stronger theoretical linkages between domestic political conditions and a president’s foreign policy decisions. Using data measuring drone strikes outside of congressionally sanctioned warzones, we show that political and economic domestic conditions indeed influence the president’s use of drone force.

Keywords: Foreign Policy, Domestic Politics, Presidency, Terrorism, Drones, Executive Power, Political Use of Force

Suggested Citation

Boddery, Scott and Klein, Graig, Presidential Use of Force in the Drone Age (January 16, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Scott Boddery (Contact Author)

Gettysburg College ( email )

300 North Washington Street
Gettysburg, PA 17325
United States

Graig Klein

Binghamton University ( email )

PO Box 6001
No Address Available

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