Conflict & Justice

Majority of non-Americans oppose US drone strikes, Pew study finds


A man walks past a US Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle hanger during a preview day of the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition at a military air base in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on October 17, 2011.



America's use of unmanned drones to kill terror suspects is widely opposed around the world, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

In 17 out of 21 countries surveyed, more than half of the people disapproved of US drone attacks in nations such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the Associated Press cited Pew as saying.

Stars and Stripes noted that even citizens of long-time American allies such as Britain, Germany and Japan disapprove of the drone strikes — at 47, 59 and 75 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, such US-friendly majority Muslim nations as Egypt, Jordan and Turkey also featured high disapproval results, of between 81 and 89 percent.

The tactic is already extremely unpopular in the mainly Muslim countries where most such strikes take place, Stars and Stripes added.

"There remains a widespread perception that the US acts unilaterally and does not consider the interests of other countries," the study authors reportedly said.

Meanwhile, the survey found that a majority of people in the US, or 62 percent, approved of the drone campaign — making American public opinion the clear exception on the issue, Pew said.

According to the AP, the Obama administration paints drone tactic as one of its most effective in combating Al Qaeda and safe, in terms of US casualties.

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According to the Obama administration, drone campaigns were also more palatable in the countries where they were used, because they kept US boots on the ground to a minimum.

"In order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives, the United States government conducts targeted strikes against specific Al Qaeda terrorists, sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft, often referred to publicly as drones," White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan reportedly said in April.

Targets were chosen by weighing the threats involved with capture versus kill.

The administration recently gave the CIA further permission to aggressively pursue enemies via drone strikes in Pakistan, despite the diplomatic fallout according to the LA Times.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the US was "reaching the limits of our patience" because Pakistan had not cracked down on insurgents carrying out deadly attacks on US troops in the region, including in Afghanistan.

The White House declined to comment on the Pew report.

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