The Whack-a-Moles Leave Women Unaroused

Pew Research has started polling whether people around the world approve of America’s use of drones against terror leaders.

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 quick answer is, no one aside from Americans themselves (who love them) likes our use of drones. Only in the UK and Poland does the result come close to 50/50. Mind you, none of the countries where we’re using drones were asked in this questionnaire (Pew promises numbers from Pakistan soon). India, which is in the neighborhood and fights some of the same terrorist groups being hit, split 32 approving, 21 disapproving, and the rest not answering.

But I’m even more interested in the gender split. As shown above, the gender gap in drone approval levels is in the same neighborhood as Mitt Romney’s gender gap.

This is something I’ve been thinking of when I encounter men who defend our use of drones with almost visceral enthusiasm. Sure, Americans like explosions and displays of sheer power in all forms. But I can’t help but think about how drones have been sold as the ultimate porn thrill: sitting in a dark room in Nevada, watching over minute creatures whose humanity has been stripped, caressing a joy-stick to wield the ultimate power over life and death. La petite mort.

Never mind that a lot of the targeters are actually women, never mind that we keep whacking these moles without winning any war.

They make Americans feel powerful, and I guess that’s worth 34 net approval points.

Update: It turns out Americans aren’t all that fond of drones themselves, for uses where they might be surveilled.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

20 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Drones seem to be similar to early aircraft and aircraft carriers, weapons of war that would allow us to enforce our will at a distance. They require far fewer personnel than an army and allow us to remain untouched at home. It’s hard to imagine there’s not something elementally Freudian at work here.

    The myth is that we CAN strike back, we can hit our enemies (and thousands of innocents, too) “where it hurts” after, better yet, before we are attacked. The reality is that many of these “drone attacks” are extrajudicial killings outside of any real war zone. The “targets” are sometimes identified, sometimes just assumed to represent an amorphous risk to Amerika. They involve no credible, internationally (or even domestically) defensible process.

    As the supposed beneficiaries of these attacks, we are meant to trust, not verify, and to take on faith our government’s claimed purposes, acts and consequences. As they say about getting it right in golf, not even God can hit a one-iron, and she has a low handicap and a perfect swing. (I wonder what she says when an errant shot lands in the deep rough.)

  2. MadDog says:

    I know that you’ve posted maps of drone bases here in the US before EW, but I don’t remember seeing this particular one from June 2011 before (13 page PowerPoint presentation via Wired’s Danger Room).

    As I examined page 6 of the presentation with the map of DOD drone bases here in the US, I was checking out all of the many SOCOM bases and which drones they are flying.

    Most are the smaller hand-launched drones like the WASP, Puma AE, or Raven, or truck and trailer-launched drones like the Shadow which makes sense because the general small unit size of most SOCOM operations, but SOCOM also flies some of the bigger drones as well including the Warrior drone (an upgrade to the Predator drone) at MCAS Cherry Point and Patriot Kentucky which I guess is where SOCOM drone training (and maybe operations) is done for SOCOM drone ops in Yemen.

    Anyways, that map makes it clear that just DOD drone flights alone in the US is way more than most Americans have a clue about.

  3. MadDog says:

    OT – Via The Hill blog, Senator Dianne Feinstein confirms that the UndieBomb 2.0 and the Stuxnet leaks are the ones being investigated:

    “…Feinstein, who was on the letter with Obama in 2006 calling for a special counsel to investigate the Abramoff scandal, said Wednesday that she believed the two U.S. prosecutors are better for conducting a speedy investigation.

    She said the U.S. attorneys would not face political pressures from the Obama administration and would “call the shots as they see them.”

    “We can move ahead much more rapidly,” Feinstein said. “Instead of one special prosecutor, you essentially have two here, one is the Yemeni situation and the other is the Iranian cyber situation. I think you’re going to get there much quicker…”

    One thing I’ve been meaning to mention about the supposed Stuxnet leak is I’m somewhat confused by all the fuss.

    The notion that both the US and Israel were behind Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear program has gained currency and solidified into a common belief worldwide in the last couple years.

    So what’s the big deal about David Sanger reporting that it is true? This is not really news, so why all the fainting spells from both Repug and Democratic Congresscritters?

  4. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: I guess Uri Friedman of The Foreign Policy blog didn’t get that memo yet:

    “…The scope of the Justice Department’s investigation remains unclear, perhaps, as the New York Times suggests, because revealing which leaks are the focus of the probe “would implicitly confirm that certain reports contained accurate classified information.” (Some have predicted that the investigation will focus less on drone strikes and more on the cyberattacks against Iran and an Associated Press report in May on a foiled bomb plot by al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate…)”

  5. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: And I was remiss not to mention that EW gets a hat tip in Uri’s post:

    “…The following example of Obama’s drone warfare doctrine relies on interviews with a senior member of the intelligence community and other U.S. and Pakistani officials. Interestingly, the blog emptywheel has pointed out that the account differs substantially from the description of the strike against the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud that the journalist Joby Warrick gave in his book The Triple Agent, though the two accounts are not necessarily inconsistent…”

  6. emptywheel says:

    @MadDog: Right. As I’ve been saying, almost the only new information is that Israel freed StuxNet, intentionally or not.

    You don’t get that?

  7. par4 says:

    Caressing a joy stick in a dark room in Nevada!!11!!1 USA! USA! What’s the partisan break down? With Obama calling the shots(money shot?) it’s got to be at least as popular with the ‘Libruls’ as it is with the ‘Conservatives’.

  8. MadDog says:

    And speaking of US drone strikes, the latest via AFP and the AP:

    US drone kills three militants in Pakistan: officials

    “A US drone attack killed at least three militants early Thursday in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region, known as a hotbed of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, security officials said.

    The drone fired two missiles on a building in the central market of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan near the Afghan border, Pakistani officials said.

    “A US drone fired two missiles on the first floor of a shop in the main market and at least three militants were killed,” a senior official told AFP…”

    The AP:

    “…In the early hours of Wednesday, airstrikes destroyed a car parked near a house in the town of Azzan, an al-Qaida stronghold in the province of Shabwa, leaving nine al-Qaida militants dead, military officials said. They said the missile was believed to have been fired by a drone. The officials said some militants who fled Jaar have taken refuge in Azzan.

    Al-Qaida’s propaganda arm claimed in an email message that the attack was launched by a U.S. drone. The Internet-based agency is known to be close to al-Qaida’s Yemen branch. There was no U.S. comment…”

  9. MadDog says:

    More OT – Via the WaPo:

    U.S. expands secret intelligence operations in Africa

    “The U.S. military is expanding its secret intelligence operations across Africa, establishing a network of small air bases to spy on terrorist hideouts from the fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrain along the equator, according to documents and people involved in the project.

    At the heart of the surveillance operations are small, unarmed turboprop aircraft disguised as private planes. Equipped with hidden sensors that can record full-motion video, track infrared heat patterns, and vacuum up radio and cellphone signals, the planes refuel on isolated airstrips favored by African bush pilots, extending their effective flight range by thousands of miles.

    About a dozen air bases have been established in Africa since 2007, according to a former senior U.S. commander involved in setting up the network. Most are small operations run out of secluded hangars at African military bases or civilian airports.

    The nature and extent of the missions, as well as many of the bases being used, have not been previously reported but are partially documented in public Defense Department contracts. The operations have intensified in recent months, part of a growing shadow war against al-Qaeda affiliates and other militant groups. The surveillance is overseen by U.S. Special Operations forces but relies heavily on private military contractors and support from African troops…”

  10. prostratedragon says:

    @earlofhuntingdon:
    “I wonder what she says when an errant shot lands in the deep rough.”

    I’m sure Tiger Woods was just quoting scripture that time recently …

  11. prostratedragon says:

    @MadDog: Thanks for the brochure with that informative map, MD; more, indeed.

    And how about that final page: Questions?

  12. emptywheel says:

    @Starbuck: I’m showing the gender gap chart here. If you click through to the study you’ll see that the UK (47D/44A) and Poland (51D/38A) are closest to being evenly split on drone Disapproval/Approval overall, aside from India which is a very significant outlier.

  13. Not an "American" says:

    Please don’t use loose classifications such as “no one aside from Americans themselves (who love them) likes our use of drones” to assign a single point of view to a diverse population. While the irony may serve the purposes of your post (at least as color), using “Americans” (and “who”) in this way only serves to expand use of such misrepresentations.
    It does seem like your post is not intended to be information, but overall a jab at male fascination with war games. OK. But even in such contexts the effect on language can be significant.

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