Legitimacy—the public’s beliefs in the appropriateness of some behavior—is central to the sustainability of US drone strikes abroad. Research shows that the public does not generally challenge policies and actions it deems legitimate, which helps preserve space for officials to make decisions on sensitive issues like the use of force. In an effort to create legitimacy, US officials extol the virtues of drone strikes. Indeed, military leaders have referred to these operations as “righteous,” even when they inadvertently kill civilians. Charles Rowling and Joan Blauwkamp also find that “US officials routinely invoke polling data to enhance the legitimacy of their policy actions,” including drone strikes.
This Irregular Warfare Initiative article was originally posted through our partner organization, the Modern War Institute at West Point. Continue reading the full article here.
Image credit: Senior Airman Christian Clausen, US Air Force