A new NBC News/Surveymonkey survey (PDF) was released today revealing that two-thirds of Americans are worried about the possibility that the United States will become engaged in a major war in the next four years. 36% were “very worried” with another 30% “somewhat worried”. Only 8% of Americans polled were not worried.
The polls showed Americans relatively divided on the question of enemies, split roughly down the middle on whether Russia is friendly or unfriendly, and with a slight majority seeing China as friendly. 80% of those polled saw US membership in NATO as a good thing.
Interestingly, the split on Russia broke along somewhat political lines, with Republicans leaning 50-49 toward being friendly toward Russia, and 75% of Democrats believing that Russia is either unfriendly or “the enemy” outright.
A lot of the concern about major US wars would doubtless hinge on Russia or China, with the US among NATO nations deploying large amounts of troops along the Russian border in Eastern Europe, and Pentagon officials constantly hyping up tensions with China over maritime claims in the South China Sea
The poll also showed that while Americans are pretty divided on the question, 41% believe the United States should be “less active” in world affairs, with only 25% believing the US should be more active, and 32% saying the current level is fine.
They were also split almost down the middle on the use of military force against terrorism, with 49% believing that the heavy use of military force is creating more hatred leading to more terrorism.
That may be one of the most noteworthy beliefs among Americans, as this split is not reflected at all in America’s political leadership, where the election campaign has throughout the global war on terror rested heavily on both major parties trying to outdo one another in being more hawkish on terror.
The poll shows a lot of Americans don’t believe continued escalation is a wise course of action in the terror war, and that a lot are seriously concerned that America is heading toward a major war in short order, which may help the rare politicians trying to steer America away from the bellicosity fueling such conflicts.
The one thing Americans in the poll most agreed on was that “Americans are greatly divided when it comes to the most important values,” a belief which the rest of the poll seems to largely bare out, with a lot of the questions split closely down the middle, and a lot of major questions of the day very close to a 50-50 split.