Drone strikes unpopular across globe, says US survey

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The Obama administration’s use of drone strikes faces broad opposition around the world, says a report released on Monday. The Pew Research Centre in Washington that conducted a survey on the issue in 39 countries, reports that half or more in 31of these countries disapprove of US drone attacks against extremist groups.

“In most of the nations polled, there continues to be extensive opposition to the American drone campaign against extremist leaders and organisations,” the report notes.

In 31 nations, at least half disapprove of the US conducting drone missile strikes targeting extremists in places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

At least three-in-four hold this view in 15 countries from all corners of the world, including nations from the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

The only three countries where majorities support the drone campaign are Israel (64 percent), Kenya (56 percent) and the US itself (61 percent).

In the US, Republicans (69 percent) are especially likely to endorse this policy, although most independents (60 percent) and Democrats (59 percent) also approve. Opinions on this issue are essentially divided in Australia, Canada and Germany. German support for US drone attacks has actually risen slightly over the past year – today, 45 percent approve, compared with 38 percent in 2012.

Although most in France still oppose the drone strikes, support has also increased there, rising from 37 percent last year to 45 percent now.

Views about drones also differ sharply along gender lines in many countries. For instance, in Japan, 41 percent of men approve of the drone attacks, compared with just 10 percent of women.

Double-digit gender gaps are also found in six of the eight EU nations polled, as well as in Australia, Canada, the US, South Korea and Uganda.

 

China’s rise:

 

The survey’s main focus, however, is on the international public opinion on China’s rise as an economic power and on how it compares with the United States.

The findings show that people around the world believe the global balance of power is shifting and China may eventually replace the United States as the world’s dominant power “China’s economic power is on the rise, and many think it will eventually supplant the United States as the world’s dominant superpower,” the surveyors note.

In a chapter on attitudes towards the US, the report notes that the US receives largely positive ratings in most of the nations surveyed in the Asia/Pacific region.

There are, however, two exceptions in Asia: China and Pakistan. Chinese attitudes have changed significantly over the past three years — in 2010, 58 percent had a favourable opinion of the US, compared with 40 percent now.

Meanwhile, anti-Americanism has been widespread in Pakistan in recent years, and today just 11 percent have a favourable view.

Elsewhere, China’s increasing power has not led to a more positive public rating than for the United States. Overall, the US enjoys a stronger global image than China. Across the nations surveyed, a median of 63 percent expresses a favourable opinion of the US, compared with 50 percent for China.