Two-thirds oppose pre-emptive strike against N. Korea: US poll

WASHINGTON • Two-thirds of Americans oppose launching a pre-emptive military strike against North Korea, while a majority trusts the United States military to handle the escalating nuclear crisis responsibly but not President Donald Trump, according to a new poll.

Of those surveyed, roughly three in four supported tougher economic sanctions on North Korea to help persuade it to give up its nuclear weapons. About one in three thought the US should offer the isolated nation foreign aid or other incentives.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 37 per cent of adults trusted Mr Trump either "a great deal" or "a good amount" to responsibly handle the situation with North Korea, while 42 per cent trusted the commander-in-chief "not at all". In contrast, 72 per cent trusted US military leaders and 43 per cent trusted them "a great deal".

Only 8 per cent thought that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could act responsibly.

The large gap in confidence between Mr Trump and the US military, as measured in the poll, comes as Defence Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other national security officials emphasise a diplomatic approach.

Although Mr Mattis has made clear that the US is prepared and willing to retaliate to any attack with overwhelming force, he also has shied away from the rhetorical bombast employed by his boss.

  • 37%

    Percentage of Americans who trust President Donald Trump either "a great deal" or "a good amount" to responsibly handle the situation with North Korea.

  • 72%

    Percentage who trust US military leaders, with 43 per cent saying they trust their generals "a great deal".

Most Americans are hesitant to support pre-emptive military action against North Korea. Just 23 per cent said the US should strike North Korea first, while 67 per cent said there should be US military action only if North Korea attacked America or its allies.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted last week from Monday to Thursday among a random national sample of 1,002 adults reached on cellular and landline telephones. Overall results carried a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2017, with the headline 'Two-thirds oppose pre-emptive strike against N. Korea: US poll'. Subscribe