Near-majority approves of military force against Iran to stop nuclear-weapon development

posted at 8:40 am on February 6, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

How far should the US go to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon?  A new poll from The Hill shows that 49% of Americans would support military action by the US to stop Iran from developing or acquiring a nuclear weapon, with only 31% opposed:

Nearly half of likely voters think the United States should be willing to use military force to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, according to this week’s The Hill Poll.

Forty-nine percent said military force should be used, while 31 percent said it should not and 20 percent were not sure.

Sixty-two percent of likely voters said they were somewhat or very concerned about Iran making a terrorist strike on the United States, while 37 percent said they were not very concerned or not at all concerned about it.

If that sounds like a rejection of Ron Paul’s campaign platform on foreign policy, well, it is.  The same percentage willing to take on Iran to stop them from getting a nuclear weapon also opposes military cuts as a means for deficit reform, although 40% approve of the idea, making it a little more close. However, a clear majority approve of Ron Paul’s idea to reduce the American military in Europe and Korea, with 42% saying it should be reduced and another 10% who believe it should be eliminated altogether.

On the issue of attacking Iran, the demographics are interesting.  Among the youngest voting set that would have to disproportionately contribute to that effort (18-39YOs), support is almost exactly equal to the overall survey, 49/30.  In fact, there is almost no difference between any of the three age demos.  Income demos are all in favor of it by majorities or large pluralities; the most supportive are the under-$20K demo (53/32) and $40-60K demo (56/27).  There is no real difference between those with children at home (50/28) and those without (49/32).  Democrats narrowly support the idea (41/37) although self-described liberals (32/42) do not.  In fact, the only real partisan difference in the entire poll comes on those who approve of Barack Obama’s performance.  The more people approve of it, the less likely they are to support the idea of attacking Iran to stop the nuclear weapon.

Of course, this doesn’t address the question of whether Iran’s nuclear program can be stopped through military action in the first place (a very big question), nor how the Iranian people — who are the biggest threat to the mullahs at the moment — would react to a foreign attack.  It also fails to address if and how such an action would destabilize the region, and whether the US has the resources to launch and maintain a war against Iran with our efforts next door in Afghanistan still ongoing.  But if the Obama administration put together a credible plan to end the Iranian nuclear program through military intervention, the US would at least be open to the idea.

The Hill also asked about whether the US should establish a base on the Moon in the next decade.  Attacking Iran turns out to be a lot more popular, as support for Newt Gingrich’s proposal only comes to 20%, with 64% disapproving.  Disapproval stays in the 60s in all three partisan demos, and only finds a plurality for support in those unsure of their political philosophy (47/22).  It’s a losing proposal with every other segment.


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