Poll reveals widespread international disapproval of drone strikes
18.06.2012 Bookmark and Share

A new poll shows that there is widespread international opposition to the US military's use of drones in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, with over 50% of respondents in 17 out of 20 countries indicating that they disapprove of the controversial tactic.

The poll shows that approval of drone strikes is also relatively low: in only two countries, the UK and the US, do more than 40% of people agree with their use. In the majority of countries in which people were polled, 25% or less of respondents indicated approval of the use of drones.

The results for four countries demonstrate significant extremes: in Turkey, 81% of respondents disapproved, with only 6% approving; in Egypt the numbers are 89% and 6%; Jordan 85% and 6%; and in Greece 90% are opposed and only 5% in favour.

The poll asked: "Do you approve or disapprove of the United States conducting missile strikes from pilotless aircraft called drones to target extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia?"

The breakdown of results reveals divergences between those of different political opinions, as well as between genders. In the UK, only 31% of those describing themselves as on the left approve of drone strikes, while 56% of those on the right offer their support to the tactic.

Women are significantly less supportive of drone strikes than men. In Germany, 24% of women questioned disapproved of them, while 54% of men indicated that they did. The second-widest gap between genders is in the UK, where 57% of men questioned approve, but only 30% of women.

The report, undertaken by the Pew Research Center's for its Global Attitudes Project, notes that overall global opinion of Barack Obama has "declined significantly" while "overall confidence in him and attitudes towards the US have slipped modestly as a consequence."

Chris Coles, who runs the Drone Wars UK blog, said:

"There is clear mass disapproval of the growing use of drones in armed conflict and there is equal disapproval for the use of drones for surveillance purposes within the UK. The public opposition to the use of drones really needs to be taken into account by those who are pushing ahead with the implementation of these unmanned systems at both the national and international level."

Pew Research Center, 'Global opinion of Obama slips, international policies faulted', 13 June 2012

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