Okay, I’m sure you’re all sick of my ranting about drones so I’ll keep this very short and sweet. I still think it’s morally wrong and politically stupid to kill suspected terrorists on foreign soil with drones. I think it weakens respect for due process of law. I think that if the Russians started doing it to American citizens inside the US the hypocritical outpouring of indignant rage would deafen the planet. I think it makes America look like a bully, it probably violates international law, and I strongly suspect that it creates more terrorists than it kills.
The public, however, have spoken and spoken loudly to the contrary. According to the inquisitive folks at the Gallup polling company fully 65% of Americans support the “launching of airstrikes in other countries against suspected terrorists”. In a time when elections are won and lost by single digit percentages of the vote, this is a loud endorsement of the practice. Furthermore, this is one thing the bitterly opposed political parties seem to agree on, with 79% of Republicans, 61% of independents, and 55% of Democrats expressing their approval.
Predictably, the opposition grows as the activity gets closer to home. Only 41% support drone strikes against those suspected terrorists if they are US citizens living abroad, so apparently it’s okay to kill Pakistanis in Pakistan but not Americans living there doing the same things. Only 25% support using the drones against suspects inside the US, and a mere 13% support using them domestically against US citizens. I’d like to think that to some degree this represents the greater possibility of a criminal trial for suspects closer to home, but I’m not really convinced that this is the case.
It would be nice if this strong support for a US policy that involves killing people would be an informed opinion, but that doesn’t appear to be the case either. In the same Gallup poll 49% of the respondents said that they were following the story either “not too closely” or “not at all”. If I had to choose a single group to focus my frustration on it would be the subset of the 24% of people who favor the practice without following the story at all, but that number isn’t listed in the results. Education is required for a successful democracy but I’ll spare you that rant for now.
I’m a firm believer in democracy. One of the many freedoms in a democracy is the right to screw ourselves up. I’m pretty sure that this is one of those opportunities, but I don’t really have any choice but to let the majority rule and hope they eventually come to their senses.