Sunday, November 11, 2012

Foreign Policy and Anti-American Sentiment

Last week with the presentation of the War on Terror group (perilous times project), an interesting debate arose regarding why Islamic extremist groups hate America. I pondered this and discussed this topic with various people throughout the week.  Mr. Bolos posed the question whether the reason has to do with our foreign policy and meddling activity in the Middle East. The origins of anti-american sentiment is a whole other debate, but I would like to focus on what our policy has done for the U.S’ fight against terrorism.

Many officials from the Pentagon have said that our sole reason for engaging policy in the Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan is to suppress terrorist factions who pose threats to the U.S national security. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have used drone strikes as a policy to remove leaders of terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and the Taliban. Many Americans consider this policy a success as drone surveillance was used for the Bin Laden assassination. These technologies were also responsible for the killings of 33 high ranking Taliban and al Qaeda leaders according to Jeffery Sluka, Ph.D from Cal-Berkeley. A recent article from CNN challenges the policy and its “successes”, which can be found here.

It is suggested that drone policy is ineffective because of the large civilian casualties sustained, especially in Pakistan where drones are most frequently used. The article highlights a study from Stanford University which concluded that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562 - 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 - 881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228 - 1,362 individuals." Many innocent Pakistanis die from our policy, where only 2% of those killed are high level targets.   Is it justified that we continue to use these policies internationally, even with detrimental impacts to civilian life? Also I urge you to think about whether this is successfully helping the fight against terror or fueling American hatred. Please comment your thoughts below. I’m curious to hear what you all think.


  1. I think that drone strikes should be continued because of their success in killing top terrorist leaders. The costs contains some civilian casualties, which are awful. However, there would be many more costs if we actually had on the ground operations instead of drone strikes because more civilians would be killed, our soldiers would be put in danger, and the terrorists would have a better chance of carrying out attacks against us. Drones may cause anger, but a large amount of this anger was created before we had drones. All we can do now is try to pick up the pieces of our past in order to ensure a better national security.

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