The idea of the legality of torture is increasingly taking root in the minds of Americans

Why More Americans now support the methods the Bush era?

It turns out that a quarter of the population of America is prepared to use nuclear weapons to destroy the terrorists. This is not a joke. That was one of the results has brought many amazing discoveries survey, which recently held a firm YouGov, specializing in the study of public opinion, at my request. In this study, conducted in the period from 24 to 30 August 2012, the experts interviewed one thousand people, finding out their views on the burning issues of our lives. The degree of error was + / — 4 percentage points.

Frankly, I added as the issue of nuclear weapons for the sake of a joke, even assuming learn so many new things. My God, how I was wrong! The results showed that 25% of Americans are willing to stop the next terrorist plot with the help of the atomic bomb capacity of several hundred kilotons. In addition, the figures show that U.S. citizens have to lean toward the more militant positions in the field of anti-terrorism policies since that time, as the president was Barack Obama.

Now rate the following figures. According to a survey conducted in October 2007 by the sociological Rasmussen Reports, 27% of respondents considered it legitimate to torture of prisoners captured during operations to combat terrorism, while 53% reported that torture should not be used. Research firm YouGov showed that the number of Americans who are ready to go on torture, is already 41% (an increase of 14 percentage points), and thinned the ranks of their opponents by 19 percentage points and accounted for 34%.

We all certainly know that the devil is in the details. The survey results are highly dependent on how the question is worded. So I asked the researchers to ask a few questions that were on the survey conducted by USA Today, CNN and Gallup agency in January 2005, and to formulate them in the same way as if they were placed. The fact that that survey was the most detailed study of public opinion on interrogation techniques from all took place before the election of Obama to the presidency. In the end, it turns out that most Americans today do not just according to the very idea of torture, and they like some of their views.

In 2012, U.S. citizens are increasingly selected as the simulated drowning techniques of intimidation, threat to incite the dogs and confinement in a cold cell where the prisoner is stripped naked and kept in handcuffs. For example, in 2005 only 18% of respondents said that the prisoners to strip naked and keep them in handcuffs is acceptable, while 79% considered it unacceptable, while in 2012 already 30% of respondents were in favor of this method of interrogation (+12 %), while 51% were against (-28%). In 2005, only 16% of respondents approved of waterboarding on prisoners suspected of terrorism, and the vast majority of citizens (82%) felt wrong to tie people to the board and dunked under water. Today, over 25% of respondents support this method of deterrence, while 55% still consider it unacceptable. Strange, but the only method of questioning, which is less popular today than in 2005, it is depriving people of sleep for long periods.

The degree of support for this method of dealing with terrorists as physical destruction, also increased, although not as much as on the issue of torture. The reason lies partly in the fact that the murder has always been a very popular method in this kind of fight. During the 2005 survey 65% of respondents said they would kill the notorious terrorist, and in 2012, the number of respondents was 69%. It is interesting that the number of citizens who do not agree with the destruction of notorious terrorists, decreased from 33% to 12%, respectively. The enthusiasm of the public in terms of physical destruction, it turns out, extends to foreign leaders who harbor terrorists. In 2005 and 2012, more than a third of respondents (37% and 36%, respectively) were in favor of killing the leaders of "providing refuge to terrorists," although it is not clear what the term "safe haven" (whether, for example, to qualify as "harbor", a situation where the government is too weak to fight the terrorist organizations in their country?). In addition, we must remember that there is such a thing as a law that prohibits kill heads of state. This legal rule exists since 1976, ie from the time when Congress has found that the CIA is secretly developing plans to assassinate Fidel Castro and other leaders of the Third World by the poison of hired killers, or even sea shells, bombs.

So, why in the reign of Obama Americans are more prone to such methods as torture of prisoners and the physical destruction of the terrorists than in the era of George W. Bush? From my point of view, it has many causes, but three of them look the most likely. First, it is always easier to support the controversial methods when a newspaper hype and debate over their use are on the decline. Probably, the respondents feel more confident speaking in favor of torture and murder, when the journalist Christopher Hitchens (Christopher Hitchens) does not show itself to simulated drowning, notorious photos taken in prison "Abu Ghraib" is no longer filled with the Internet, and TV show «Saturday Night Live» (Saturday Night Live) has stopped making fun of Lynndie England (Lynndie England). Matt Baum (Matt Baum), professor at the School of Government. Kennedy at Harvard University, puts it more bluntly about this: "It is possible, the degree of support for such methods in a society sharply declined after the scandal of the events in the prison" Abu Ghraib ", and today again reached its normal level."

Secondly, we should not ignore the logic of behavior expressed metaphor of "Only Nixon could go to China" [just not inclined to compromise policy can violate the unwritten prohibitions]. Republicans in general have a reputation for "tough guys" in matters of national security, while Democrats, by contrast, are considered (or at least considered) weak in this area. So Americans may believe that killing and intimidation during interrogation methods are justified if they are using the administration, led by Democratic President. Similarly, citizens tend to trust diplomacy, when as head of state is a Republican incumbent in a Rambo-style. However, this logic is not always consistent with the facts. While Obama has continued and even expanded the application of many controversial methods of combating terrorism, taken up by Bush Jr. — such as military operations, detention indefinitely and surgical strikes with unmanned aerial vehicles — tough interrogation methods among them. January 22, 2009, two days after his inauguration, the president signed a decree according to which simulated drowning and other methods of intimidation, not covered by the Field Manual of the armed forces have been declared illegal.

As a result, we come to the third option — the reason is the impact of the media, in particular the impact of spy films and television series. I know it sounds silly, but the facts speak in favor of this version. As I mentioned in a previous column, in the last decade on television has grown in the number of entertainment programs to spy themes, and the data is more similar to an anecdote, which suggest that the boundary between the real and the virtual world in the minds of the people gradually erased. For example, we see the director of the CIA, talks about the virtues of Hollywood heroes, and users of Twitter, which in its reports, in all seriousness thank Jack Bauer (Jack Bauer) [hero spy television series] for the destruction of Osama bin Laden.

The results of this survey show that the spy movies and the transfer may well influence public opinion in the discussion of issues related to the real action of the intelligence services. According to data obtained by YouGov, the Americans, often watching such films and TV series, more than citizens, there is little interest in them, tend to support the murder and torture of terrorists, as well as all of the above methods of intimidation during interrogation, except, perhaps, the threat to pit dogs. (However, fans of espionage serials are little different from others in terms of willingness to drop the atomic bomb on the terrorists and destroy foreign leaders.) Here are some of the statistical results:

* 84% of fans spyware television terrorists are willing to kill, and among respondents who rarely watching such programs, these people are 70%.

* 38% of amateur spy gear on the topic consider the use of waterboarding legal. Their view is shared by only 28% of those cool relating to such television series.

* 60% of fans spy show favor deportation of terrorists in the country known for torture, while citizens rarely include such programs, spoke in favor of this method only in 45% of cases.

* 34% of people who like spy movies, consider it acceptable to strip naked terrorists and keep them in handcuffs, and among Americans who prefer another movie, only 27% share this view.

* 53% of people frequenting movies to spy themes approve the expulsion of terrorists in the country known for torture, and among infrequent users cinemas, where are these movies, these people only 41%.

Of course, these data do not prove that entertainment programs to spy on topics affecting something there. Perhaps fans of James Bond movies or Jason Bourne just by their nature are more militant than the average American, and because of this are drawn to such a film and television. But I have my doubts on that score. The entertainment industry is fully capable to change the preferences of the nation's cultural and other issues. Moreover, it is already doing so. In the late 1980s, when television was a hit among the TV series "LA Law» (LA Law), the number of students who wanted to enroll in law faculties of universities reached record numbers. Navy leadership still thinks the movie "Top Gun» (Top Gun) one of the most effective tools to attract new recruits into their ranks. Recently, prosecutors have complained about the so-called "effect of CSI» — under the influence of the series "CSI» (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) jurors were to require them to unusual, even very exotic evidence in court, considering that without charges position looks weak. Before the events of September 11, 2001 Torture in films and television series are almost always used only the "bad guys." Today is not the case. The Bush administration no longer runs the country, but taken her adopted methods such as torture and killings of terrorists are becoming increasingly popular.

«Foreign Policy», USA

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