White House declines comment
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s increasing use of unmanned drone strikes to kill terror suspects is widely opposed around the world, according to a Pew Research Center survey on the US image abroad.
In 17 out of 21 countries surveyed, more than half of the people disapproved of US drone attacks targeting extremist leaders and groups in nations such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, Pew said Wednesday.
But in the United States, a majority, or 62 percent, approved the drone campaign.
“There remains a widespread perception that the US acts unilaterally and does not consider the interests of other countries,” the study authors said, especially in predominantly Muslim nations, where American anti-terrorism efforts are “still widely unpopular.”
The White House declined to comment on the report.
The Obama administration considers drone strikes one of its most effective tools to combat Al-Qaeda — preferable to conventional war because the strikes produce fewer American casualties and meant to be more palatable abroad because the use of drones keeps US troops 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 said in April in a detailed and wide-ranging defense of the policy.
He said targets are chosen by weighing whether there is a way to capture the person against how much of a threat the person presents to Americans.
The global drone campaign under President Barack Obama has killed a number of high-value leaders, arguably more than any other method including more than a decade of special operations raids inside Afghanistan. A strike in Pakistan this month killed Al-Qaeda’s most recent second in command, Abu Yahya Al-Libi.
As conventional US forces draw down from their missions overseas and drone strikes increase, the anger directed at invading armies is being transferred to the unmanned aerial devices.
“We continue to see the public thinking Obama has not fulfilled his promise that he would seek international approval for military force, and that’s related to displeasure with the drone strikes,” Pew Research Center President Andrew Kohut said Tuesday in advance of the release of the survey, titled “Global Opinion of Obama Slips, International Policies Faulted.”— AP