The Marketplace of Ideas at War: Elites, International Law, and Public Attitudes towards Drone Warfare



Sarah Kreps, the Department of Government, Cornell University
Priya Satia

Date and Time

December 5, 2013 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


CISAC Conference Room

FSI Contact

ABOUT THE TOPIC: The use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, as a counterterrorism tool has become the subject of considerable debate. Proponents point to drones as both effective for disrupting terrorist networks and compatible with international legal commitments. Critics assert that attacks create more terrorists than they kill while also violating international law. Both defenders and detractors have increasingly sought to make their case in the public sphere with the intent of swaying public support. This research studies the marketplace of ideas on the question of drones with an eye towards explaining 1) the type of arguments—i.e., whether or not drones are compatible with international law or are militarily effective—that resonate most with the public; and 2) the source of those ideas, whether international organizations, non-governmental organizations, or the government. In doing so, it fills a gap in a literature that has typically focused on sources of public support for initially going to war rather than attitudes toward states’ actual conduct and wielding of violence in the midst of armed conflict.

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