Nearly 60 per cent of Americans approve of drone strikes that target extremists in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen despite concerns that they endanger innocent civilians, a new poll found Thursday. The Pew Research Center said its national survey showed that 58 per cent approve of US drone strikes against extremists in those countries and that 35 per cent disapprove.
Since taking office in 2009, Obama has relied heavily on drone raids to hunt down Al Qaeda leaders and other Islamist extremists from Pakistan’s tribal areas to Somalia and Yemen. Human rights groups and some lawmakers question the legality and the morality of the drone war, citing estimates that hundreds of civilians may have been killed by the strikes. Nevertheless, the premise Pew survey often remains flawed. Although most of the debate over targeted killing has focused on drones, the survey is of limited usefulness because it focuses on the method of killing rather than the authority to kill. As far as Americans are concerned, the question is really whether and under what circumstances the government has the authority to use lethal force and what the limits are on that authority. The policy to propagate against the Muslim terrorism has given US authorities an upper hand to use powers without any scrutiny.
For Americans, drone airstrikes are something that protects citizens at home — and prevent them from getting killed in warfare abroad. It’s the least-bad solution for how to stay out of international politics as much as possible — which is what Americans increasingly say they want.