A Gallup poll released yesterday includes some incredibly interesting insights regarding American attitudes towards the US government’s drone strike policies.
The survey results suggest that a majority of Americans would agree with previous U.S. drone attacks that have killed suspected terrorists living in other countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. However, the data indicate that less than a majority of Americans would have in principle supported the drone attack in the fall of 2011 against American citizens who were suspected terrorists living in Yemen. And the results show that substantial majorities of Americans are opposed to drone airstrikes “in the U.S.,” regardless of whether they are against U.S. citizens.
So unsurprisingly, Americans don’t want drone strikes to occur where they live and work, where their families reside and where their communities are. Are Pakistani’s somehow exempt from sharing these sentiments? What is it about the American political discourse regarding Muslims and just brown people in general that somehow it never hits home that drone strikes are just as anathema to their families and their communities? (I’ve written before about the issue of racism when it comes to the topic of drones, here and here.)
Notice, too, how support for US drone strike policy drops off as the target becomes more and more “like us.” Hellfire missiles terrorizing and killing Muslims outside of the US? Sure, why not. Hellfire missiles targeting US Citizens though? That’s an issue. And forget about targeting foreign nationals who are suspected terrorists weaving their way through crowds of Americans.
Which brings up another issue – are none of these people remotely concerned with the idea of due process, or even the simplest opposition to arbitrary killing by a state power on the basis of mere suspicions? What does that say about a culture with so readily and regularly celebrates its vaunted ideals and principles as enshrined in documents such as the constitution, which, incidentally, uses the language “no person” and not “no US-Citizen” with regards to who is protected?
The last point i want to comment on is this correlation between people who follow news of drones “very/somewhat closely” and their support for it. This is as clear an indictment of the mainstream news establishment as any – the more exposure one has to the part of the state (no longer the fourth estate) that continually and unquestioningly validates government policy through the ostensible lens of objectivity, the more likely one is to support such policies. As I wrote recently regarding the American media culture’s complete omission of NSA whistle-blower William Binney from their discourse, this breeds a kind of mindless irrationality towards issues of serious pertinence – for instance, Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Again, this finding of the Gallup poll speaks volumes of truth to my point about the necessity of a counter-narrative that doesn’t simply render all the victims of US military aggression statistics or “terrorists”.