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Reaction to the Attacks on America

Polls from the United Kingdom, Hungary, Russia, and France

by Richard Burkholder


  • Two-thirds (67%) of Britons interviewed in a Daily Telegraph/Gallup poll say they believe that the U.K. is now involved in "the equivalent of a war" with international terrorists.
  • Hungarians expect the United States to retaliate, but fear economic fallout from the crisis.
  • Residents of Moscow expect an ongoing campaign of terror that will draw a vigorous U.S. military response.
  • An overwhelming majority of the French express "solidarity" with the American people in the wake of the attacks.

The United Kingdom


A Daily Telegraph/Gallup poll taken on the eve of Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to Washington examined the attitudes of the British public toward the prospect of military action in response to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C.

Britain at War?

When asked if they felt that Britain is now involved in the equivalent of a war against international terrorists and their allies, two-thirds of respondents agreed (67%). Fully two-thirds (70%) of Britons polled on Sept. 17-18 said that the United States and its allies should be prepared to take military action against countries believed to be giving aid and comfort to the terrorists associated with last week's attacks. Nearly half said they would favor such action even if it meant that substantial numbers of British troops would run the risk of being killed or wounded (48%) or that there would be substantial civilian casualties in countries like Afghanistan (47%).

Although roughly a quarter of those polled said that Britain should support the Americans "wholeheartedly and without reservations" (23%), the vast majority (71%) said that support should be given only if Britain agrees with whatever action America finally decides to take. Only 4% said that Britain should distance itself from America and take no part in any military or similar actions by the United States.

While nearly a quarter (23%) of Americans said the United States and its allies should take immediate military action even if the identity of those responsible remained unclear, only 13% of the British public backed this approach. Fully 82% of the British public said military action should only be taken after the identity of the perpetrators was established, even if this process took several months to accomplish. Even in the United States, Gallup found a significant majority (62%) of Americans favored making the timing of a unilateral American military response contingent upon a clear identification of those responsible for the attacks.

Prospect of a Wider Conflict

More than three-quarters of respondents (78%) said they believed that any action taken against the terrorists and their allies would result in a wider conflict between the Western world and the Islamic world.

Action in Britain Against Terrorist Supporters

The vast majority of respondents (93%) said anyone in Britain aiding and abetting the terrorists should be arrested and interned. Strong support for this action was found even among respondents who thought that military action should not be taken (88%).

Fear of Terrorism Affecting You or Your Family

A comparison of American and British responses indicates that citizens of these two nations share a high level of concern over the possibility of being personally affected by terrorism. More than half (57%) of all British respondents said that they are "very" or "somewhat" concerned that they or someone in their family will become a victim of a terrorist attack, as did a majority of Americans (51%).

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews conducted by the Gallup U.K. poll for the Daily Telegraph with 606 respondents, aged 18+ from across Great Britain, conducted Sept. 17-18, 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

ASKED OF TOTAL SAMPLE:Should the United States and its allies, or should they not, be prepared to take military action against countries believed to be giving aid and comfort to last week's terrorists?




Should not


Don't know/Refused


ASKED ONLY OF THOSE WHO SAY "SHOULD":Would you or would you not still support military action against such countries even if it led to a substantial number of civilian casualties in countries like Afghanistan?


Would still support


(47% of full sample)

Would not support


(18% of full sample)

Don't know/Refused


(5% of full sample)

ASKED ONLY OF THOSE WHO SAY "SHOULD":Would you or would you not still support military action against such countries even if substantial numbers of British troops were to run the risk of being killed or wounded?


Would still support


(48% of full sample)

Would not support


(18% of full sample)

Don't know/Refused


(4% of full sample)




Which of these statements comes closest to your own view?



We should support the Americans but only if we agree with whatever actions they finally decide to take


We should support the Americans wholeheartedly and without reservations


We should distance ourselves from the Americans and take no part in any military or similar actions by the U.S.




It is said that there are in this country a considerable number of people who are aiding and abetting the terrorists. Do you or do you not believe that any such people should be arrested and interned?



Yes -- do believe people should be arrested and interned


No -- do not believe people should be arrested and interned


Don't know/Refused




So far as you know, would any military action taken against the terrorists and their allies result in a wider conflict between the Western world and the Islamic world, or would it not do so?



Yes -- it would


No -- it would not


Don't know/Refused




How worried are you that you or someone in your family will become a victim of a terrorist attack? Would you say…?




Great Britain
Sep 17-18

United States
Sep 14-15




Very worried



Somewhat worried



Not too worried



Not worried at all



Don't know/Refused





Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?




Great Britain
Sep 17-18

United States*
Sep 14-15

The United States and its allies should take military action only against the terrorist organizations responsible for the attacks on the United States, even if it takes months to clearly identify them.



The United States and its allies should take action immediately against known terrorist organizations, even if it is unclear which terrorists are responsible for the attacks.



The United States and its allies should not conduct military action in response to the attacks last week.



Don't know/Refused



(*NB U.S. wording excluded reference to allied involvement in any action)



It is being said that, whether we like it or not, we are now involved in a war against international terrorists and their allies Do you personally think we are involved in the equivalent of a war or not?



Yes -- we are


No -- we are not


Don't know/Refused





What effect did the dramatic events of Sept. 11 have on Hungarians' perceptions of America, and of America's place in the world?

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, a significant minority (36%) of Hungarians told Gallup they thought the attacks had shaken the United States' position as a global superpower. This contention was rejected, however, by more than half (57%) of those interviewed. And a far larger proportion -- 83% -- said they felt the United States was a strong nation that would ultimately surmount the difficulties facing it.

There was little doubt among Hungarians that America would react to last Tuesday's attacks with retaliatory strikes against the perpetrators. Fully three-quarters (74%) of those interviewed by Gallup on the day after the attacks in New York and Washington said they expected a response of this sort by the United States. Most (57%) disagreed, however, with the assertion that the West would "shut itself in" in order to defend itself, and only three in 10 agreed with the prediction that the attacks would permanently alter the way in which Americans go about their daily lives.

On the economic front, a significant minority of those interviewed (43%) expressed concern that the attacks might serve to trigger a global economic crisis. As for the effects on Hungary's own economy, those who felt their country's economy would suffer as a consequence of the crisis (60%) far outnumbered the proportion that doubted the likelihood of negative local economic fallout (31%). Only one in four thought the terrorist attacks would leave Europe's economy in a stronger relative position, although two-thirds said they felt the military importance of the EU would now increase.

Hungarians had mixed views on the possibility of additional terrorist attacks. A majority (52%) said that similar attacks should be expected to occur elsewhere in the world, but less than a third (28%) thought Hungary itself might become a target. When asked if they personally feared that they (or a family member) could become a victim of terrorism, responses were nearly evenly divided between those who were either somewhat or very worried about this possibility (51%) and those who were not (47%). Only a small minority, however, said they would be less likely to take a future commercial flight as a result of the attacks.

Hungarians gave their own government high marks for its reaction to the crisis: 83% said they felt it had acted properly and only a small minority (7%) felt otherwise.

If there were any remaining doubts about the media's to capacity to disseminate global news almost instantaneously, this poll's findings should serve to dispel it. Despite the six-hour time difference, fully 98% of Hungary's population says it learned of the attacks upon their occurrence, and over two-thirds knew of them within the first three hours.

Survey Methods

The Gallup Organization interviewed a nationwide sample of 545 adults by telephone on Sept. 12, 2001.

Have you heard about yesterday's terrorist attacks against the U.S.?






How did you first learn of the attacks?





DK / No opinion








Notified over the phone


Notified personally


When did you first learn of the attacks?





DK / No opinion


11th, before 6pm local time


11th, evening


12th, morning




There are many opinions about the consequences of yesterday's terrorist attacks. I will read you a list of statements, for each one, please tell me if you agree or disagree with the given statement:



Don't Know







U.S. will respond with retaliatory strikes to the attacks




We have to expect similar attacks globally in the future




Hungary can be a victim of terrorist attack in the next one or two years





The time of fear and uncertainty is about to come




The terrorist attacks have shaken the U.S.'s position as superpower




America is strong, and will surmount the difficulties




The Western world will 'shut itself in', to defend itself




As consequence of the terrorist attacks, the European economy will have a stronger position




As consequence of the terrorist attacks, the military significance of the EU will strengthen, improve




The terrorist attacks will induce economic crisis throughout the world




The Hungarian economy will suffer the consequences of attacks against the U.S.




As a result of the attacks, Americans will permanently change the way they live




Do today's events make you less willing to fly on airplanes, or not?


DK / No opinion


Yes, less willing


No, not


Not flying anyway


How worried are you that you or someone in your family will become a victim of a terrorist attack -- very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried, or not worried at all?





DK/No opinion


Not worried at all


Not too worried


Somewhat worried


Very worried


Did the Hungarian government react properly to the situation after the terrorist attacks?


DK / No opinion








On Sept. 12, the Russian firm ROMIR (Russian Public Opinion & Market Research) conducted a telephone survey among a representative sample of 500 adult residents of Moscow in order to gauge their response to the attacks.

Only 21% of Muscovites said they viewed the events as an isolated act of terrorism. Some 35% saw them as marking the beginning of a campaign of terror directed against the United States, and nearly as many -- 29% -- expected the attacks to usher in a worldwide terrorist offensive. A small proportion -- 6% -- went even further, seeing the attacks as likely to usher in Third World War. When asked whom they thought responsible for the attacks, by far the most common reply was Islamic extremists (49%).

Residents of the Russian capital anticipated a forceful military response by the United States -- 38% said they expected U.S. military action against specific nations, and an equal proportion expected the United States to launch a full-scale and systematic war on terrorism. Only 14% expected a non-military response, that is, one limited to domestic investigation and prosecution.

Roughly three-quarters of those interviewed (74%) expressed confidence in the ability of the president and his administration to handle the situation, with 41% saying they were "somewhat" confident, and 33% "very" confident in this regard. There was some skepticism, however, about the ability of America to identify the people responsible for the attacks. About one in five (18%) said they thought it highly likely that the U.S. authorities could quickly identify the perpetrators, with an additional 30% describing this as somewhat likely. However, 32% thought it unlikely than an expeditious identification would be made, and 14% felt those responsible for the attacks would never be identified.

Many expected the attacks on New York and the Pentagon to have an effect on American foreign policy. Only 20% of those interviewed foresee no changes in this regard, while 35% expect a modest foreign policy shift, and 36% said they thought they events would results in drastic changes in the diplomatic policy of the United States.

Predictions of the consequences for both the global and domestic economies were mixed, though generally modest effects were anticipated. The most common expectations were that the tragedy would either lead to a short-term crisis that would not effect the global economy (35%), or that it would have practically no affect at all on Russia's own economy (33%). Fewer than one in 10 Muscovites foresaw a global crisis that would affect Russia itself (8%), and 14% thought the events might have a positive economic effect, due to higher prices for the country's oil and metals exports.

On Sept. 11, 2001 the United States had to go through the most wide-scale terrorist attack in history. Which of the statements would you agree with?

  • It was the beginning of a terror campaign against the U.S. -- 34.9%
  • It was the beginning of the worldwide terror campaign -- 29.2%
  • The attack was a single act of terrorism of an extremist group -- 21.0%
  • It was the beginning of the Third World War -- 5.7%
  • Other -- 1.6%
  • No opinion -- 7.6%

How, in your opinion, will the U.S. administration react to the terrorist act?

  • Will use military force against the nations suspected of the attack -- 38.4%
  • Will commence a full-scale war against international terrorism and will be destroying terrorists all over the world with no rush -- 37.8%
  • Will conduct the investigation inside the U.S. and prosecute those found guilty -- 14.3%
  • Other -- 1.9%
  • No opinion -- 7.6%

Who do you think is responsible for this violent act of terrorism?

  •  Islamic extremists -- 49.8%
  • Religious extremist groups (sects, etc.) -- 7.6%
  • Clandestine services of other nations -- 7.0%
  • Radical anti-globalization groups -- 5.4%
  • U.S. clandestine service -- 3.5%
  • Other -- 2.9%
  • No opinion -- 23.8%

How worried are you that something similar can happen in Russia?

  • Very worried -- 47.0%
  • Somewhat worried -- 29.5%
  • Not too worried -- 10.5%
  • Not worried at all -- 11.1%
  • No opinion -- 1.9%

How, in your opinion, will the tragedy in the U.S. influence the Russian economy?

  • It will lead to a short-time crisis that would not affect global economy -- 34.6%
  • It will have practically no effect on the Russian economy -- 32.7%
  • Oil and metal price increase will be positive for the Russian economy -- 13.7%
  • It will lead to the global economic crisis which will affect Russia -- 7.6%
  • Other -- 1.0%
  • No opinion -- 10.4%

How confident are you in the ability of the U.S. administration and President Bush to handle the situation?

  • Very confident -- 33.5%
  • Somewhat confident -- 40.6%
  • Not too confident -- 13.3%
  • Not confident at all -- 6.3%
  • No opinion -- 6.3%

How likely do you think it is that the U.S. government will identify the people responsible for these attacks?

  • Not very likely -- 31.4%
  • Somewhat likely -- 29.8%
  • Very likely, they will find those people very soon -- 18.1%
  • They won't be able to find them -- 13.7%
  • No opinion -- 7.0%

How do you think the U.S. foreign policy will change after the attacks of the 11 Sept.tember 2001?

  • Will change drastically -- 35.9%
  • Will change slightly -- 35.2%
  • Will not change at all -- 20.3%
  • No opinion -- 8.6%



A nationwide survey of 805 adults conducted by telephone on Sept. 12 by the French firm Groupe CSA on behalf of the publications Le Parisien and Aujourd'Hui shows the overwhelming majority of France's citizens viewing the attacks as a threat to world peace, though most are confident that similar attacks will not occur in France itself.

Fully 96% of French adults said they felt a sense of solidarity with Americans following the attacks, with nearly three-fourths (72%) describing their sentiment as one of "complete" solidarity. An overwhelming majority of those interviewed -- 88% -- were in either complete or general agreement that the attacks constituted a threat to peace worldwide, with only 12% disagreeing with this assessment.

Roughly three-fourths (78%) expressed confidence in the ability of French authorities to prevent such attacks from occurring on French territory, although only 29% said they had "complete" confidence in this regard. Only a very small minority (6%) said they had no confidence at all in France's ability to forestall such attacks.

Do you think that the attacks that occurred in the United States threaten world peace?

Total Sample





Yes, completely


Yes, Mostly





No, mostly


No, not at all




Do you feel solidarity with the American people?


Total Sample





Yes, completely


Yes, mostly





No, mostly


No, not at all



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