Red Cross Poll Shows Alarming US Tolerance for War Crimes

America One of Last Countries in World Supportive of Torture

The most recent version of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) “People on War” poll has shown an alarming shift in attitudes, particularly among the populations of the five permanent UN Security Council members, toward accepting war crimes as just “part of war.” No nation saw a bigger shift, however, than the United States.

Deliberate military attacks conducted knowing civilian casualties will result were supported by all five permanent members, and each of them was disturbingly okay with the idea of attacking hospitals, even though that is illegal under international law.

Tolerance for torture, however, is increasingly a uniquely American phenomenon, with roughly half of the Americans polled seeing torture as an acceptable way to try to gather information. None of the other permanent Security Council members were anywhere near this, and the only other countries on the planet with comparable figures were Nigeria and Israel.

The broadest opposition to war crimes, unsurprisingly came from respondents to the poll in countries ravaged by war, with people in Yemen uniformly against torture and against attacking hospitals. The Afghan public, similarly was overwhelmingly opposed to both.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.