Bombarded by President-Elect Donald Trump’s election rhetoric promising to step up the campaign against the so-called Islamic State, Americans are more likely to accept torture and indiscriminate bombing of suspected terrorists than they were two decades ago, according to a poll by the International Committee of the Red Cross released Monday.
The majority of those surveyed across more than a dozen countries including the United States still think bombing of populated areas and torturing detainees is wrong, according to the WINS/Gallup International poll, released by the ICRC. But rising numbers of people, especially Americans and Britons, said they are willing to accept less humane practices if it means winning the fight faster.
Yet the survey also showed that people in places like Syria and Yemen believe the laws of war are needed, in an almost wistful expression of hope for a humanity that is absent in two conflicts that have killed civilians by the hundreds ofthousands.
“They are still telling you despite of all that, we feel if we let go the limits of war, it will be ten times worse,” said ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord in an interview.
The survey was conducted between June and September 2016 with 17,000 people in 16 countries, an update on a similar survey carried out by the ICRC in 1999. It specifically asked people what they thought of “torture,” rather than using the Bush-era terms like “enchancedinterrogation techniques” like water boarding, ice baths, and sleep deprivation. Overall, two-thirds of those surveyed said torture was wrong, but more were willing to agree to harsh interrogation of detainees than in 1999.
The results are disturbing for a humanitarian organization that was set up to remind all on the battlefield to follow the laws of war as set out in the Geneva Conventions—especially how citizens of leading nations like the U.S. and Britain seem more comfortable with harsh practices than ever before.
SOURCE: KIMBERLY DOZIER