April 6th, 2009
04:05 PM ET
5 years ago

Americans split on North Korea action

 Americans are almost evenly split over whether to take military action against North Korea for this past weekend's missile launch.
Americans are almost evenly split over whether to take military action against North Korea for this past weekend's missile launch.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Americans are almost evenly split over whether to take military action against North Korea for this past weekend's missile launch, but only one in four think the country poses an immediate threat, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.

North Korea claims the launch of the long range missile was a success, but the United States and other nations have described it as a failure, and criticized the country for violating a 2006 U.N. Security Council resolution. The U.N. Security Council met Sunday, but took no action against North Korea.

A slim majority of Americans, 51 percent, said the U.S. should take military action against North Korea, while 46 percent of Americans opposed the use of military force against what is often described as the most isolated nation in the world. More than half, 58 percent, of Americans said that North Korea is a long term threat, while 25 percent described the nation as an immediate threat and 17 percent believes it poses no threat at all.

"Nearly nine in ten Americans have an unfavorable view of North Korea, making it just about the least popular country in the eyes of the American public," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But far fewer Americans feel immediately threatened by North Korea, which may be one reason why the public is split on a military response to this weekend's developments."

The poll of 1,023 adult Americans was conducted APril 3-5. Most questions on North Korea were asked of roughly half the total sample, producing a sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for each question.


Filed under: North Korea • Polls
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Jerry

    What is the point in asking the general public their opinion on something that, let's face it, most people are entirely ill informed about?

    The results are specious.

    April 6, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. Brian Crooks

    Here's my take. North Korea is NOT going to attack anyone with a nuclear weapon. Period. Kim Jong-Il is a God-king to those people. They literally pray to paintings of him on their wall. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the average North Korean believes they were the first to land on the moon and that Kim can do no wrong. The concept of him being incorrect is beyond inconceivable. He's owns the world's largest collection of French Cognac, for crying out loud. For him to start a nuclear war with anyone would mean that all that he has would collapse in a matter of days. The carefully-constructed cult of personality he's crafted would implode on itself within hours should he even attempt a nuclear launch on another country.

    He's crazy but he's not stupid. This is a power play to try to scare other countries into giving him what he wants: namely more aid without him having to give anything up. He has nothing to gain from a war, but much to gain from posturing. It will help tremendously for us to go forward with the 6 Party Talks as planned and use not just the carrot but also the stick. Bush and Condi Rice actually almost got this one right. They had Kim Jong-Il dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear reactor in exchange for the US removing NK from the State Sponsor of Terror list. Kim did his part, the reactor was disabled, but Bush refused to remove NK from the list. As a result, they ramped back up the nuclear machine and here we are. I'm not blaming this all on Bush, but I'm making the point that these people can indeed be reasoned with if they see an upside at the end.

    April 6, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  3. Pete

    I'm confused. Why are some Americans comfortable with launching a military attack against a country that has not actually attacked us? Well, before you war-hawks go running to the recruiting office to enlist, I have some fairly salient questions for you.

    1. Wouldn't a pre-emptive military strike against North Korea technically be a violation of the 1953 truce that ended the Korean War? Such a truce violation would plunge North and South Korea into a full shooting war. Military estimates say that 50,000 US troops could be potentially killed within 3 months of such a war breaking out. Not to mention the millions of South Koreans that could be killed.

    2. How exactly would a preemptive military strike on North Korea not cause China to either a) declare war on us or b) simply turn off the money spigot and refuse to loan us anything again.

    3. How would Russia feel about us attacking their neighbor?

    4. Why haven't you signed up to fight in the war you want so badly. What's the matter, was Iraq and Afghanistan not good enough for you?

    April 6, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. Sam SixPack

    Now that our economy depends heavily on Hu Jintao, we won't get permission to do anything about Kim Jong-il. We're too broke and what is left of our army is too busy elsewhere. At least we were able to our children's future to some fat bankers. Welcome to the economic recovery - enjoy.

    April 6, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. Sam SixPack

    Now that our economy depends heavily on Hu Jintao, we won't get permission to do anything about Kim Jong-il. We're too broke and what is left of our army is too busy elsewhere. At least we were able to give our children's future to fat bankers. Welcome to the economic recovery — enjoy.

    April 6, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  6. Mike Syracuse, NY

    Why don'rt we just continue the Obama apology tour/ He or his administration have blamed everything wrong on the world on us already. I can't wait for them to say 9/11 was our fault because we spoke badly to Muslims.

    April 6, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. bob

    ditto

    April 6, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  8. Robin

    Why don't we just tell them, we are not their enemy.

    April 6, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. Lynn

    So many people have so much to say without knowing anything about the consequences or conversations with North Korea's neighbours. I think Japan, South Korea and China would have had a great deal to say about the steps that needed to be taken.

    April 6, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |