America Is In a Military Mood

  • Share
  • Read Later
Americans are ready for military action and most have picked out their man — Osama bin Laden. More than 80% of Americans favor military action, and a similar number support a policy of strategic assassination. These are among the results of a telephone survey of 1,082 adult Americans taken September 13 for TIME and CNN by Harris Interactive. Other findings show that while most Americans (87%) think the nation will recover and move on from these events, the public is likely to change its behavior in a wide range of ways including avoiding flying on airplanes (42%), cutting back on spending (40%), and avoiding public places (14%).

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Bin Laden Is Responsible

A near-consensus has developed that Osama bin Laden is personally involved in Tuesday's terrorist attacks. Seventy-eight percent believe this is very likely; 14% somewhat likely.

A majority also associate Saddam Hussein with the attacks. 34% of those polled believe his involvement is very likely and 44% somewhat likely.

Support for Military Action

Public support for military action is high — including the assassination of the responsible leaders (presumably bin Laden), air strikes, and a ground invasion. Only when it comes to massive bombings that might kill civilians is the public more divided in its views.

  • 85% favor strategic air strikes against isolated military targets.
  • 81% support assassinations of leaders responsible for the terrorism.
  • 55% favor a ground invasion "that would result in the loss of U.S. lives" (38% are opposed).

    Reflecting the intensity of these views, 66% of Americans say they would favor the reinstatement of the draft if a ground invasion becomes necessary. Sixty-two percent believe Congress should declare war now — although a majority (61%) is not sure whom we should declare war against.

    If military actions do occur, most Americans think they will lead to a larger conflict: 65% say it is likely that strikes against bin Laden will lead to a broader war between the U.S. and other countries in the Middle East or Asia.

    Fear of Additional Attacks

    A majority of Americans think additional attacks are at least somewhat likely elsewhere in the country, and one in three reports that they will change some aspects of their personal life as a result.

    39% think it is "very likely" that bombings or similar acts of violence will occur elsewhere in the U.S. in the near future. (This is fewer than the 50% who thought such actions were very likely following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995).

    34% say they will change some aspect of their personal life to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of terror. (The figure was 24% after the Oklahoma City bombing).

    The Personal Response

    Americans report they are likely to take numerous personal actions in response to the attacks — including, in a minority of cases, cutting back on spending and stockpiling emergency supplies.