A recent poll shows that there is a vast difference between how Americans would deal with the authoritarian regimes in North Korea and Syria. The poll indicates that a majority of American voters are in agreement that something must be done about the Kim Jong-Un regime in North Korea, and that something includes all possible options being available under an umbrella that covers preemptive military strikes and/or nuclear strikes. However, the same poll finds that the same respondents were far less likely to support actual military intervention to depose the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.
A recent Zogby Analytics poll has revealed that while nearly 52 percent of “likely voters” backed a strong military response (where “all options are on the table”) to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and their increasingly aggressive ballistic missile testing (often accompanied by inflammatory rhetoric with regard to the United States and various allies; at times littered with threats of using said nuclear weapons), they are far more reluctant to agree that the U.S. should send military troops into war-torn Syria to “topple the Assad regime.” Only 21.1 percent of the respondents “strongly” agreed or “somewhat” agreed that the U.S. should put boots on the ground in Syria.
Voters clearly see North Korea as a nuclear threat and are willing to contemplate some type of military preemption to gain some control over the nuclear threat that the Asian country presents. Only 36 percent of the poll’s respondents disagreed. Nearly 12 percent said they were “not sure” what should be done.
There is a clear partisan divide on the North Korea issue. Whereas 48 percent of Democratic voters disagreed that doing something with regard to North Korea should also include military preemptive strikes, Republican voters overwhelmingly agreed (68 percent) that such measures should be employed.
The Trump administration has taken a hard line with North Korea since January and warned the country in March that it was taking a “new approach,” as reported by Reuters at the time, with the rogue nation; an approach it considered as a departure from what the administration called two decades of a “failed approach.” The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea’s official name) has responded with threats (diplomatic, political speeches, and belligerent ballistic missile tests) not only against the U.S. but also its neighbors, South Korea and Japan, allies of the U.S. in the region. Although the last two missile tests by North Korea have been spectacular failures, the tests have been accompanied with political posturing, and threats of nuclear retaliation against its enemies should relations devolve into war.
But seeing North Korea as an imminent threat apparently does not carry over to the al-Assad regime in Syria. That nation, which has been the battleground for a devastating civil war and the establishment of half of the bloody Islamic State territory takeover (with the other half being a territory grab in neighboring Iraq), is seen as part of the continuing military involvement of the United States in Middle Eastern affairs that began with the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, respectively. The conflicts there never quite ended (although they officially ended in 2014 and 20011, respectively) for Americans, mainly due to the U.S. maintaining a military presence in the two countries.
As stated by Zogby Analytics, “American voters clearly are against sending troops on the ground to Syria. After 16 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, voters are skeptical of the devastation abroad and the lingering effects suffered by tens of thousands of veterans in America.”
The poll finds that, overall, two-thirds disagree (strongly and somewhat combined) with sending thousands of American troops to Syria, which also has strong military support from Vladimir Putin’s Russia. That two-thirds contingent includes strong majorities in almost every sub-group of poll respondents that were in disagreement with the idea.
The results of a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and the Council on Foreign Relations in late 2013 indicated that Americans had grown war weary. The poll found that 52 percent of the American public thinks the United States should “mind its own business internationally.”
With regard to North Korea, though, that majority, at least according to the Zogby Analytics poll, may have slipped somewhat to allow for measures — including preemptive strikes — to be taken against a regime that appears to be growing more belligerent as it works on its nuclear weapons program and rebukes warnings from the U.S., as well as anti-weaponry resolutions issued by the United Nations.
[Featured Image by Wong Maye-E/AP Images]