Almost 60 percent of Americans would support military action if diplomatic efforts fail to dissuade North Korea from its nuclear ambitions, a Gallup poll has found. But far fewer think the aggression will come from Pyongyang itself.
The results of the poll, published Friday, also found a clear political divide between supporters of the main two political parties, with an overwhelming 82 percent of Republicans in favor of deploying the armed forces versus a mere 37 percent of Democrats.
Somewhat paradoxically, only 38 percent believe North Korea will actually launch an attack on the United States itself, despite their support for a military strike.
The number of Americans supporting armed action is up significantly from the last time the question was posed in 2003, when tensions flared between Washington and Pyongyang after President George W. Bush accused Pyongyang of arming itself with “missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.” Bush also included North Korea in his “axis of evil” speech, grouping it together with Iraq and Iran.
Back then, 70 percent of Americans were convinced the issue could be solved diplomatically and only 47 percent supported military action.
On Friday morning, North Korea fired another missile which flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
The launch came mere days after the UN Security Council, including China and Russia, agreed on a new round of sanctions which fixed an annual cap of 2 million barrels worth of oil imports into North Korea as well as a ban on the country’s textile exports.
Tensions have been steadily rising on the Korean peninsula over the past few months, with Pyongyang conducting several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of rulings by the UN Security Council, while the United States has continued to carry out joint exercises with South Korea and Japan while amplifying its rhetoric against Pyongyang.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the US. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” President Donald Trump said in August. In response, North Korea said it was “carefully examining” a plan for a missile strike on the US territory of Guam, a Pacific island some 3,400km away from the Korean peninsula.
More recently on Wednesday, Trump expressed doubt whether the recent sanctions agreed upon by the Security Council would have any effect.
“I don’t know if it has any impact, but certainly it was nice to get a 15-to-nothing vote, but those sanctions are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen,” Reuters quoted Trump as saying during a meeting with the Malaysian Prime Minister.
Then on Thursday, the North Korean government released a statement through its official KCNA news agency demanding that the “Yankees… be beaten to death as a stick is fit for a rabid dog.”
“There’s limit to patience. Now is the time to annihilate the US imperialist aggressors. Let’s reduce the US mainland into ashes and darkness,” the statement read.
Russia and China have proposed a “double-freeze” solution to the crisis, wherein the United States cease its drills with South Korea in exchange for the North suspending its weapons programs. However, the US has rejected these proposals, saying it has every right to carry out exercises with its allies.