Amer­i­cans want US to do more to at­tack IS

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON: A ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans want the United States to in­ten­sify its as­sault on the Is­lamic State fol­low­ing the Paris at­tacks, but most re­main op­posed to send­ing troops to Iraq or Syria, where the mil­i­tant group is based, a Reuters/Ip­sos poll found. That view runs counter to com­ments by some 2016 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates like for­mer Florida Gov­er­nor Jeb Bush, who called on Mon­day for more US “troops on the ground” in the re­gion. Af­ter years of pro­longed con­flict in Iraq and Afghanistan, Amer­i­cans ap­pear re­luc­tant to be­come em­broiled in an­other war even as they push for more ac­tion.

The poll - con­ducted over the week­end af­ter the sui­cide bomb and shoot­ings in Paris - also found that 63 per­cent of Amer­i­cans were fear­ful that a Paris­style at­tack could hap­pen near them, suggest­ing that na­tional se­cu­rity could emerge as a theme in the cam­paign for the Novem­ber 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Amer­i­cans are more fear­ful now than they were in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the bomb­ing of the Bos­ton Marathon in 2013, even though the lat­ter took place on U.S. soil, the poll showed. In Fri­day’s at­tacks, gun­men struck a con­cert hall, bars, restau­rants and a soc­cer sta­dium, killing 129 peo­ple.

The poll of 1,483 peo­ple found ris­ing con­cern about ter­ror­ism. Of those polled, 17 per­cent listed ter­ror­ism as their top con­cern - a rise from 9 per­cent when asked in Oc­to­ber. Ter­ror­ism tied with the econ­omy as the top is­sue. The re­sults sug­gest an open­ing for Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, who have been look­ing for ways to at­tack Demo­cratic front-run­ner Hil­lary Clin­ton’s ten­ure as sec­re­tary of state un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. Clin­ton has ar­gued that her for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence makes her the best qual­i­fied to be the next com­man­der-in-chief, but Repub­li­can crit­ics have sought to link her to Obama’s Mid­dle East poli­cies, which they say have al­lowed the Is­lamic State to metas­ta­size.

His­tor­i­cally, though the econ­omy has re­mained the top is­sue for vot­ers even in times of for­eign tu­mult. In 2004, at the height of the Iraq war, ter­ror­ism fell be­hind the econ­omy and “moral val­ues” when vot­ers were asked to name their top is­sue, ac­cord­ing to exit polls. Nine­teen per­cent listed ter­ror­ism as their top con­cern. Of those who were con­cerned about ter­ror­ism, 86 per­cent voted for Repub­li­can Ge­orge W. Bush and only 14 per­cent voted for his Demo­cratic chal­lenger John Kerry, exit polls found.

The new Reuters/Ip­sos poll found that 60 per­cent of Amer­i­cans think the United States should be do­ing more to at­tack Is­lamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

A small ma­jor­ity said they sup­port us­ing airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, but about 65 per­cent op­pose send­ing spe­cial forces to the re­gion, a move that has al­ready been taken by Obama. When asked about reg­u­lar ground troops, the op­po­si­tion grew stronger with 76 per­cent op­pos­ing de­ploy­ing troops. Speak­ing in Tur­key on Mon­day, Obama ruled out the pos­si­bil­ity of send­ing ground troops to fight ISIS.

Hawk­ish Can­di­date Could Ben­e­fit

Ben­jamin Tay­lor, a po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor at the Mas­sachusetts Col­lege of Lib­eral Arts who has re­searched pub­lic opin­ion and war, said it’s un­sur­pris­ing that Amer­i­cans re­main op­posed to send­ing ground troops. Re­search has found that Amer­i­cans are only in­clined to sup­port such a move when a clear ob­jec­tive has been de­fined, he said. Tay­lor said that if na­tional se­cu­rity re­mained near the top of vot­ers’ con­cerns in the weeks to come, a more hawk­ish can­di­date was likely to win the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion.

Still, it is too early to say if the rip­ples gen­er­ated by the Paris at­tacks in the 2016 White House race will still be felt in the months to come, an­a­lysts said. Vot­ers and the me­dia have no­to­ri­ously short at­ten­tion spans. The poll also found that 52 per­cent of Amer­i­cans think na­tions which ac­cept refugees flee­ing the strife in Syria are less safe. A Syr­ian pass­port found near the body of one of the Paris at­tack­ers showed that its holder passed through Greece in Oc­to­ber, rais­ing con­cern that the at­tack­ers had en­tered Europe amid the wave of refugees flee­ing Syria’s four-year civil war.

But there was a sharp di­vide over whether na­tions should stop ac­cept­ing refugees, the poll showed. Forty per­cent said coun­tries should con­tinue to ac­cept refugees be­cause those peo­ple are flee­ing ter­ror­ism. And 41 per­cent said those coun­tries should stop ac­cept­ing refugees be­cause of the threat of ter­ror­ism. The US State Depart­ment said on Mon­day it still planned to ac­cept 10,000 Syr­ian refugees in the next year even as Repub­li­can gov­er­nors in at least 10 states said they would try to block them from their states. Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Ben Car­son and Mike Huck­abee called on the US Congress to block the ad­min­is­tra­tion from bring­ing in more refugees. The Reuters/Ip­sos poll has a cred­i­bil­ity in­ter­val of 3 per­cent­age points. For more on the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial race and to learn about the un­de­cided vot­ers who de­ter­mine elec­tions, visit the Reuters web­site. — Reuters

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