17 March 2012

Americans primed for Iran attack

According to recent surveys, Americans are in a dovish mood on Syria and Afghanistan, but that mood is tempered by a hawkish attitude toward Iran.

Two-thirds say the United States does not have a responsibility to interfere in the Syrian conflict. There is also strong opposition to bombing the Syrian military or providing arms to the opposition. A solid majority also want American troops out of Afghanistan as soon as possible.

However, their attitude toward Iran and its nuclear potential is quite different. Almost 60 per cent say it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action, than it is to avoid a military conflict. Fifty-four per cent are concerned that the U.S. will take too long to act while only 35 per cent are concerned it will act too quickly. About two-thirds believe sanctions won't work.

On the other hand, a majority believe the U.S. should remain neutral if Israel attacks. Furthermore, it isn't an issue to which a great deal of attention has been paid. Thirty-eight per cent of Americans say they have heard a lot about it, 39 per cent have heard a little and 23% nothing at all. Maybe the reluctance to support an Israeli attack and an increased knowledge of the risks would modify the belligerent mood. Maybe—but there is clearly a lot of fuel for a fire.

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