If Trump Wants to Attack North Korea, He'd Better Look at This Poll First

If Trump Wants to Attack North Korea, He’d Better Look at This Poll First

New Poll Has Bad News For Trump’s Itchy Nuclear Trigger Finger

Donald Trump threatened North Korea repeatedly this week, following the Hermit Kingdom crossing the threshold to a full-blown nuclear state with a long-range delivery capability and miniaturized warheads. Trump first said that the US would respond to North Korea with unprecedented “fire and fury.” The DPRK then threatened to test a missile in waters near Guam, and White House and Pentagon officials dialed back the rhetoric. But then Trump said that his “fire and fury” statement hadn’t been “tough enough.” Trump added Friday morning, “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”

It’s not clear where this blustery game of chicken is headed. But Trump is, at the very least, trying to create the impression that he’s perfectly willing to attack North Korea, and is potentially pursuing preparations for an attack. Before he pulls the trigger, though, he should consider this poll of Americans’ views on a war with North Korea.

Public Policy Polling conducted a poll published on Axios that measured the American public’s views of war with North Korea. It found that the vast majority of Americans were paying close attention to news on the issue, were “fearful” of a war with North Korea, and favored exhausting all diplomatic means of addressing the tension before any military solution.

Axios published several “highlights” from the poll,

  • 91% of Americans have paid at least some attention to the North Korea news with 63% giving a lot of attention to the issue. Those numbers were pretty constant among both parties.

  • 54% of both Democrats and Republicans felt that war between the United States and North Korea is somewhat close — while 26% of Democrats and 23% of Republicans think it’s very close.

  • Diplomacy favored: Sizable majorities in both parties (82% of Democrats, 68% of Republicans) favor exhausting all diplomatic options in order to avoid war, and even bigger majorities (90% of Democrats, 80% of Republicans) support direct talks with North Korea before military action.

  • An area of disagreement: While a plurality of Americans oppose a preemptive military strike to disable North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, the parties themselves disagree — a majority of Republicans would support it while a majority of Democrats would be opposed.

Across party lines, Americans opposed rushing into any war with North Korea. This should make Trump think twice before signing off on any kind of strike.

Trump may be seriously tempted to create a major conflict if Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation closes in on high crimes and misdemeanors committed by Trump and his associates. Historically, an international conflict has buoyed a president’s popularity. But the public’s faith in Trump as a leader is historically low, so it’s difficult to predict whether that would help him with many voters beyond his base.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Marc Belisle is the Reverb Press World Affairs Editor. He is a writer, activist and teacher. He has a Master’s degree in International Conflict Analysis from the Brussels School of International Studies. READ MORE BY MARC.