As the debate over the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, as a weapon against terrorism and domestically by public agencies, a new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found a majority of Americans support the program overall. There is concern over civilian casualties associated with these strikes, as there should be. All possible attempts should be made to avoid civilian deaths but it is worthy of note that since 2009 the rate of civilian deaths has dropped significantly. This reduction was…
“a result of several developments, one of which was a directive issued from the White House just days after President Obama took office, to tighten up the way the CIA selected targets and carried out strikes. Specifically, Obama wanted to evaluate and sign off personally on any strike if the agency did not have a “near certainty” that it would result in zero civilian casualties.”
While the reduction or elimination of civilian casualties should always be a priority, the decisions associated with any strike such as these also have to weigh the consequences of not taking any action. What is the potential loss of life if these terrorist leaders are not struck down? This has, and always will be a weight to bear by any military decision-maker and should never be assumed that it is ever taken lightly.
Released: February 11, 2013
While U.S. drone strikes have faced new scrutiny in recent weeks, a majority of the public continues to support the program. Overall, 56% approve of the U.S. conducting missile strikes from pilotless aircraft to target extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; just 26% say they disapprove.
Opinion is largely unchanged from last July, when 55% approved of the program. Support for drone attacks crosses party lines: 68% of Republicans and 58% of Democrats say they approve of U.S. drone strikes.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Feb. 7-10 among 1,004 adults, finds that while drone strikes draw continued support, there is widespread concern that the attacks endanger innocent civilians.
Overall, 53% say they are very concerned about whether drone strikes put the lives of civilians in danger. Even among those who approve of the program, 42% say they are very concerned the attacks risk lives of innocent civilians.