I suppose after all the obsessive polling over Russian election “meddling” and the Obamacare repeal debacle it’s only fair that we poll the citizens on something a bit more cheerful and less depressing, eh? How about.. whether or not we’re about to plunge into a new, deadly war? That’s the ticket. NBC rides to the rescue to see precisely how most Americans think we’re going to fall into the abyss next and finds that a very significant majority are worries that we’ll be marching off to yet another war in the next four years.
An overwhelming majority of Americans — 76 percent — are worried that the United States will become engaged in a major war in the next four years, according to a new NBC News|SurveyMonkey National Security Poll out Tuesday.
The number has jumped 10 points since February, when 66 percent of Americans said they were worried about military conflict.
Although Americans are concerned about a number of national security threats, a strong plurality (41 percent) believe that North Korea currently poses the greatest immediate danger to the United States, emerging as a more urgent concern than ISIS (28 percent) or Russia (18 percent), according to the poll, which was conducted online from July 10 through July 14.
The idea that we might get into another war is far from tinfoil hat territory so it’s neither surprising nor worrisome that the public has this on their minds. The target selection is a bit off, however, at least in the lower ranked choices. People worried about a shooting war with Russia are essentially planning against Armageddon, since that’s an end game scenario that the Russians want to avoid every bit as much as we do. Sure, Putin would love to snatch up a few more of the neighbors and get the old USSR band back together for a new tour if he could get away with it, but he’s got no stomach for a full tactical exchange.
And ISIS? I have bad news for the people making that selection. We’ve already been at war with ISIS for a while now. And we’re on the verge of winning.
But it’s extremely rational for all of those folks to be concerned over a potential war with North Korea. I’ve spent more time than I care to remember writing columns here about the possibility so I can relate with them. It’s also somewhat comforting to see that pretty much an equal number of voters from both parties are thinking that way. It means that it’s a relatively reasonable and shared opinion and, at least hopefully, signals a willingness to work together to do something about it. But the methods will obviously differ. Digging into the numbers, both Democrats and Independents (by margins of 76 and 65 percent respectively) would prefer a diplomatic solution. But a shocking 56% of Republicans say we should employ military action.
Personally I think the Democrats aren’t being terribly realistic, but I’ll agree that I’d prefer a diplomatic solution if it’s possible and actually ameliorated the threat long term. But that may not be an option. I don’t want a war with North Korea because every expert I’ve check in on from all ideological stripes seems to agree that it’s going to be a devastating bloodbath if it happens. We can beat North Korea, but we’ll pay an awful price, as will several of our allies in the region.
So war is on people’s minds. What would be more instructive would be to ask them all for detailed plans of precisely what they think we should do about it. Or, to take a page from Game of Thrones… I wish you good fortune in the wars to come.