A new Gallup poll released Monday morning has a surprising finding: a majority of Americans -- while supporting air strikes in foreign countries against foreign nationals suspected of Terrorism -- oppose such air strikes when used to target US citizens who are suspected Terrorists, whether at home or on foreign soil:
The reason this is surprising is that when the US actually killed a US citizen on foreign soil on the grounds that he was a suspected Terrorist -- Anwar al-Awlaki -- large majorities approved. One poll at the time reported that "a large proportion of Americans believe the US Government made the correct decision in killing a US born Islamist militant in a drone strike last month" -- specifically, that "69 percent of respondents think the action taken by the US Government to kill Anwar al-Awlaki was justified" (that included 77% Republicans and 73% Democrats approving). Another poll at the time reported that Obama's approval ratings on national security increased eight points in the wake of the Awlaki killing. Meanwhile, Obama aides ran to Politico to boast that Awlaki's corpse would be a significant asset in Obama's re-election bid, leading to this Politico headline:
What can explain this obvious discrepancy? How can it be that a policy which a majority of Americans oppose (killing Americans on foreign soil on the grounds of suspected Terrorism) was so popular and politically beneficial for Obama when it was actually done to Awlaki? I'm not speaking here about those who support the US Government's right to kill US citizens on foreign soil without a trial: people who believe that and support the Awlaki execution are at least being consistent. I'm focusing here on how it can be that a majority of Americans say they oppose having Americans so targeted on foreign soil yet still support the Awlaki killing.