Drone Attacks and the Results are Acceptable

In 2001, tens of thousands of American military were sent to invade Afghanistan in search of one man.  They never “got their man”.  The effort was a total failure.  The result, over time, was enormous loss of American lives, and billions of dollars thrown away.  The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and his sons by a drone attack was the right thing to do.

It is of no concern that he had once been an American citizen.  He renounced his citizenship when he assisted in the cowardly attacks on innocent people, who were upstanding citizens of the United States, when their lives were taken from them on September 11, 2001.  And no American lives were put in harm’s way when an enemy of our nation was eliminated.

There are only two reasons why the use of drones is being discussed.  First of all is political motive.  Attacking the President is the only action Congress has taken in months.  Secondly, Republicans are upset because we aren’t sending in thousands of troops to capture or kill one man.  War is good business, and they like it when they know the bullets are flying somewhere in the world.

Republican political candidates present themselves as “hawks” when speaking about national defense, and anti-terrorism efforts.  They label their opponents as “soft” on terror and chastise any form of “talk first, shoot later” strategy.  When they lose elections, they reverse their position verbally to gain political advantage.

The President will discuss drone strikes during his speech on national security today.  A Gallup poll revealed little interest in the use of unmanned aircraft.  Only 14% of Americans said they were following the subject closely, and only 35% said they were following ‘somewhat’ closely.  The total percentage of those who professed interest in the subject was under 50%.

So why is it in the headlines?  Two words, “political posturing”.

All polls and surveys show that most Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike, favor drone strikes.  An April CBS News report, found that 70% favored “the US using unmanned aircraft or ‘drones’ to carry out bombing attacks against suspected terrorists in foreign countries”.

Searching for the ‘least’ favorable response to these type of attacks, a Pew poll in February, found majority support for the use of drones: 56% favored, while only 26% opposed “conducting missile strikes from pilotless aircraft called drones to target extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia”.

The outrage by Republican politicians over drone strikes, led by extremist Rand Paul, does not represent the members of their party.  Republicans, by about 10pts, are more likely to support drone use in general than Democrats.

Most interestingly, very few of those polled were concerned about the legality of the program.  Expressed were concerns over the safety of civilians in proximity to the attacks.

Even a FOX news poll that asked:  “Do you approve or disapprove of the United States using unmanned aircraft called drones to kill a suspected terrorist in a foreign country if the suspect is a US citizen?”  The survey received a 60% approval mark.

So here’s the bottom line.  The only Americans who care about drones reside in Washington, or report the news.  The entire discussion is an extension of Republican policy which took effect in January 2009, and instructed the right wingers to “just say no” to any policy enacted or proposed by the Democratic President.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express


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