If you’re watching a lot of media coverage of the terrors unleashed on the world by the birth of the Islamic State in the Middle East, you’ve noticed an interesting trend: Commentators and reporters alike are beginning to wonder whether the ISIS threat has been overhyped.
From pop political analysts to serious policy hands, members of the media are wondering whether the Islamic State is really a threat to the West or if it is merely a regional threat puffing itself up in a deterrent display.
Jazz Shaw has a solid breakdown of a critique by CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen who recently criticized the American government, and by extension a credulous press, for amplifying the threat posed by ISIS beyond reasonable proportion. He found Bergen’s attempt to rhetorically disarm ISIS wanting.
“Republicans are spending a lot of effort trying to scare Americans about ISIS,” wrote the influential actor and political blogger Wil Wheaton. “Probably just a coincidence that there’s an election soon.”
Well, it seems that the public is buying the hype.
A CNN poll released on Monday afternoon found that 90 – yes, nine zero – percent of Americans believe that ISIS represents a threat to the United States. Of those, 45 percent believe ISIS represents a “very serious” danger to American national security. Another 70 percent believe the richest terrorist organization on earth flush with fighters armed with Western passports does poses the capabilities necessary to launch attacks on the United States.
Even more frustrating for the “overhyped” crowd, America’s preferred response to the terrorist group which has embarked on a campaign of assassinating American citizens via beheading is a militaristic one.
The poll released Monday shows that Americans favor:
— Additional airstrikes against ISIS (76% favor, 23% oppose)
— Military aid to forces fighting ISIS (62% favor, 37% oppose)
— Providing humanitarian aid to people fleeing ISIS (83% favor, 16% oppose)
70 percent believe President Barack Obama should go to Congress to seek their sanction for the use of force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Another 80 percent believe Congress should consent to the president’s request to authorize force.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll found similar results when asking Americans how they would prefer to see the ISIS threat dealt with:
Today, 71 percent of all Americans say they support airstrikes in Iraq — up from 54 percent three weeks ago and from 45 percent in June. Among those who say Obama has been too cautious, 82 percent support the strikes; among those who think his handling of international affairs has been about right, 66 percent support them.
Nearly as many Americans — 65 percent — say they support the potentially more controversial action of launching airstrikes in Syria, which Obama has not done. That is more than double the level of support a year ago for launching airstrikes to punish the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons.
That survey found that 91 percent of the public believes ISIS represents a threat to the United States.
61 percent of Americans in the CNN survey, however, said they oppose the introduction of American ground troops into Syria with the mission of executing offensive operations against ISIS forces. That’s a significant majority, but the minority is nothing to sneeze at either. A full 38 percent currently support sending American troops back into combat in the Middle East in order to neutralize ISIS.
That suggests the public’s post-Iraq War aversion to the use of ground troops is waning as Americans watch the horrors perpetrated by ISIS on a daily basis. If the ground war should fail in its mission to dislodge ISIS, or if the group successfully exports terror to the West, expect that 38 percent to grow quickly.