Drones and Support for the Use of Force

James Igoe Walsh and Marcus Schulzke
Explores the legal, technological, and ethical influence of drones on military policy


Combat drones are transforming attitudes about the use of military force. Military casualties and the costs of conflict sap public support for war and for political and military leaders. Combat drones offer an unprecedented ability to reduce these costs by increasing accuracy, reducing the risks to civilians, and protecting military personnel from harm. These advantages should make drone strikes more popular than operations involving ground troops. Yet many critics believe drone warfare will make political leaders too willing to authorize wars, weakening constraints on the use of force. Because combat drones are relatively new, these arguments have been based on anecdotes, a handful of public opinion polls, or theoretical speculation.
Drones and Support for the Use of Force uses experimental research to analyze the effects of combat drones on Americans’ support for the use of force. The authors’ findings—that drones have had important but nuanced effects on support for the use of force—have implications for democratic control of military action and civil-military relations and provide insight into how the proliferation of military technologies influences foreign policy.


“Deploying a rich array of experimental evidence, Walsh and Schulzke shoot down the conventional wisdom about the transformative effects of the drone revolution on the domestic politics of conflict, showing that many of our assumptions about unmanned warfare are unfounded. Full of important insights, Drones and Support for the Use of Force is essential reading for scholars of public opinion and international security alike.”
—Joshua D. Kertzer, Harvard University
Drones and Support for the Use of Force is an interesting and important contribution to work on the factors that encourage U.S. citizens to support overseas military operations and emerging research on the roboticization of warfare.”
—Aaron Hoffman, Purdue University
“The use of drones represents one of the most critical developments in the use of military force in the 21st century. This timely book systematically assesses how the U.S. public evaluates drone strikes. With implications for when and how force is used, as well as civil military relations and democratic accountability, this book makes an important and valuable contribution that will shape how scholars and policymakers think about drone strikes.”
—Michael C. Horowitz, University of Pennsylvania
Cover: Jules2000/Shutterstock.com

James Igoe Walsh is Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Marcus Schulzke is an independent scholar and was formerly a Lecturer in the Department of Politics at the University of York.

Praise / Awards

  • "The first book of its kind to delve deeply into the concept of the roboticization of warfare and the subsequent views of the public...Drone and Support for the Use of Force destroys many of the common myths concerning drone warfare and is an essential book for policymakers and scholars of unmanned aerial vehicles."

Supplemental Materials

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 252pp.
  • 23 tables, 15 charts.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2018
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-13101-3

Add to Cart
  • $59.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2018
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-90117-3

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  • Drones; unmanned aerial vehicles; terrorism; insurgency; public opinion; survey experiments; war; U.S.; America; casualty; ethics; morality; civilians; accuracy; military; technology; domestic; support