The American people are willing to accept their military killing people on the other side of the world only when there is zero chance even a few Americans will get hurt

The American people support airstrikes in Iraq but not boots on the ground, according to a new YouGov poll. It found 58 percent of Americans support President Obama’s plan to conduct airstrikes against insurgents in Iraq, but there is strong opposition to putting American personnel on the ground in any capacity. A mere 15 percent support sending American ground troops to actually fight and only 30 percent would support sending troops to just assist the Iraqi army.

We have seen similar polling for past conflicts and see how drone-based operations in places like Yemen or Pakistan barely register with the public. It is a growing trend I find very disturbing. The American people are willing to accept their military killing people on the other side of the world only when there is zero chance even a few Americans will get hurt.

Thanks to air superiority and importantly the development of military drones it is possible for the United States to be heavily involved in a foreign war without ever needing to put any American troops in harm’s way. This a rather unique historical dynamic created by technology that has given the federal government significant new political leeway for military operations.

This is a frightening level of power. Since Congress has basically accepted the premise that any military operation without “ground troops” doesn’t need to be officially approved with a war declaration, this incredible level of power also rest solely with the President.

If we aren’t willing to risk something it should make us question whether we should be involved at all, but in large part thanks to our new technology the American people and officials no longer even face this tough question. I fear how this high level of detachment will shape future actions.

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