Pew: Majority backs force to disarm Iran of nukes
posted at 12:55 pm on October 6, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
While Barack Obama busies himself with outstretched hands to Iran and canceling data collection on their human-rights abuses, the country he leads has a far different idea of how to deal with the mullahcracy’s drive to get nuclear weapons. A new poll by Pew Research shows that a large majority of Americans approves of using force to end the Iranian nuclear program if Iran won’t end it themselves. That includes a majority of Republicans, independents — and Democrats:
The public approves of direct negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, although most Americans are not hopeful the talks will succeed. And a strong majority – 61% – says that it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action. Far fewer (24%) say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran, if it means that the country may develop nuclear weapons.
There is broad willingness across the political spectrum to use military force to prevent Iran from going nuclear. Seven-in-ten Republicans (71%) and two-thirds of independents (66%) say it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons even if it means taking military action. Fewer Democrats (51%) express this view; still, only about three-in-ten Democrats (31%) say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran, if it means Tehran may develop nuclear weapons.
While most Americans approve of direct negotiations with Iran to end the threat, almost two-thirds say it won’t work anyway:
Yet while the public supports nuclear talks with Iran, a clear majority (64%) says they will not work in getting Iran to give up its nuclear program, compared with just 22% who say they will work.
The public also overwhelmingly approves of tougher economic sanctions against Iran; fully 78% approve while just 12% disapprove. But again, most Americans (56%) say that tougher economic sanctions would not work in getting Iran to drop its nuclear program.
Direct talks, tougher negotiations, and the use of force all get relatively consistent support from Americans regardless of political affiliation. It shows a rather remarkable consensus that supports Barack Obama on the question of diplomacy, but opposes the use of appeasement and shows far less optimism than the administration has thus far shown for its attempts to open Iran to talks. What’s more, the numbers do not differ much between those who have followed the issue closely and those who have not.
My friend Eric Black thinks this is a worrisome trend. However, I think it demonstrates a realistic assessment of the situation on a bipartisan basis. As John McCain said repeatedly on the campaign trail, the only thing worse than military action against Iran is allowing the mullahs to get their hands on nukes. North Korea provides a bad enough security risk, but at least Kim Jong-Il isn’t a millenial fanatic who thinks that a nuclear Armageddon will bring about worldwide Kim-ism. Iran also controls two significant terrorist organizations (Hamas and Hezbollah) who would use nukes against Israel and the West without the launch of a single missile, making it even more dangerous.
However, military action against Iran should be a last-case, no-choice scenario. Iran is not Iraq, in several respects. When Israel took out the reactor at Osirak that would have fueled nuclear weapons for Saddam Hussein, it was located in a fairly remote area of the Iraqi desert. The Iranians have dispersed their program in reaction to that attack. On top of that, Iran has a military that can defend its nation effectively and launch counterattacks if desired. Its terrain is nothing like the flat expanses of Iraq, making it especially difficult to control after an initial attack. Iran can also close the Straits of Hormuz very quickly, cutting off a large percentage of the world’s oil and creating an economic crisis instantly.
We need to try to stop the mullahs from getting the nukes, preferably by having the Iranians depose the mullahs and operating as a true democratic republic rather than ruled by non-rational, millenial fanatics. Unfortunately, Obama is going in the wrong direction on that score as well. Will Americans begin to lose patience with a President as out of step with them on this key foreign-policy issue?