International Law, Military Effectiveness, and Public Support for Drone Strikes

Published in the Journal of Peace Research (2016)

46 Pages Posted: 20 May 2015 Last revised: 30 Nov 2016

See all articles by Sarah E. Kreps

Sarah E. Kreps

Cornell University

Geoffrey Wallace

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Date Written: May 19, 2015

Abstract

The increasing reliance on drone strikes for counterterrorism has become the subject of considerable debate. Proponents point to drones as both effective for disrupting terrorist networks and compatible with international law. Critics respond that attacks create more terrorists than they kill and violate legal commitments. The central question we ask in this article is whether these international legal criticisms impact public support for drone strikes, the centerpiece of American counterterrorism policy, or whether individuals are more persuaded by arguments about effectiveness. Employing a survey experiment of a nationally representative U.S. sample, we find public support for drone strikes is moved more by legal principles than by military effectiveness, effects corroborated by a follow-up experiment that further unpacks the mechanisms through which international legal norms operate. Our findings speak to fundamental questions about when individuals will support the use of force and the domestic politics of states’ commitments to international law.

Suggested Citation

Kreps, Sarah E. and Wallace, Geoffrey, International Law, Military Effectiveness, and Public Support for Drone Strikes (May 19, 2015). Published in the Journal of Peace Research (2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2608137 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2608137

Sarah E. Kreps (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Geoffrey Wallace

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey ( email )

311 North 5th Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08854
United States

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