By Daniel L. Davis

The Stanford and NYU Law Schools jointly conducted a probe of the effectiveness of American drone strikes.  In the 2012 executive summary of Living Under Drones, the authors state that after “nine months of intensive research—including two investigations in Pakistan, more than 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts, and review of thousands of pages of documentation and media reporting—this report presents evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of current U.S. drone strike policies.”  Michael Shank, who teaches at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, said in a recent email message that after traveling extensively in several countries where U.S. drones operate, the reasons for the negative effects are as clear as they are pervasive.

“The consequences are quite serious,” he said.  “Perception, merited or misguided, of U.S. drone-killings of civilian targets is generating widespread vitriol – from Yemen to Somalia to Pakistan.  The angst is being expressed at every level of society, from government officials to street vendors and everyone in between.”  The single greatest consequence of the combination of U.S. drones and missiles strikes, Mr. Shank continued, “is the near complete erosion of goodwill towards the U.S. government, in these aforementioned countries, and the near overnight creation of myriad militant groups in response.  The U.S. has, in less than a decade, eviscerated overwhelming pro-American public sentiment.”  Pro-American sentiment took another hit last month, as an errant airstrike in Syria killed many of the civilians our involvement there was designed to protect.