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Americans Seem Committed to Winning War on Terrorism

Americans Seem Committed to Winning War on Terrorism

Majority favor using combat troops for five years or longer if needed

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The military action in Afghanistan is now entering its second month, and the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that most Americans appear strongly committed to winning the war on terrorism regardless of the time and consequences involved. Strong majorities of Americans say they are willing to send large numbers of ground troops into Afghanistan and to engage in combat for several years. Almost half say the United States should continue fighting regardless of how many American military personnel are killed. Nearly nine in 10 Americans say they have a clear idea of what this war is all about, the highest reading Gallup has measured for any war dating back to World War II.

Americans Strongly Support Use of Military Force

Several questions in the most recent poll, conducted Nov. 2-4, indicate that at this early stage Americans are willing to go to great lengths to win the war on terrorism. For example, 66% of Americans favor "sending large numbers of ground troops into combat in Afghanistan," while just 28% are opposed.

Americans are also willing to use military combat forces for an extended period. Seventy-eight percent of Americans favor using military forces in combat for at least one year, and 56% would favor using forces for more than five years if it takes that long.

How long should U.S. military combat forces be used to deal with terrorism?
Nov. 2-4, '01

A majority of Americans say they would be willing to continue fighting in Afghanistan for extended periods even if the United States fails to make visible signs of progress such as capturing Osama bin Laden or removing the ruling Taliban government from power.

How long would you be willing to continue using military action in Afghanistan without either capturing Osama bin Laden or removing the Taliban from power?
Nov. 2-4, '01

Additionally, 47% of Americans say the United States should continue to use combat forces regardless of how many military service people are killed, while 36% say the fighting should stop if the number killed is too high.

Use of Combat Forces in Dealing With Terrorism
Nov. 2-4, '01

Gallup asked those who say the United States should stop fighting "if the number of U.S. military service people who are killed becomes too high" to specify how many deaths they thought would be too many. Twenty-four percent said 100 deaths, 27% said 1,000, 15% said 5,000, 12% said 10,000 and 13% said "some higher number." This translates into 19% of Americans saying the fighting should stop if 100-1,000 American military service personnel are killed, and 9% saying that fighting should stop if 5,000-10,000 American military service personnel are killed, while 5% say the fighting should continue if more than 10,000 are killed. By way of comparison, more than 400,000 Americans died in World War II, more than 36,000 died in the Korean War, more than 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam, and nearly 300 died in the Persian Gulf War.

Of course, the actual reaction to a large number of American deaths in the fighting will depend to a significant degree on the circumstances involved and the overall progress of the war effort. These responses suggest that while Americans are willing to support military action even though there may be serious consequences, there would be some point at which a considerable portion of the public would want to call a halt to it and seek another way to reach the country's objectives.

Americans Nearly Unanimous in Saying They Have a Clear Idea of What We Are Fighting For

The poll shows that the vast majority of Americans -- 89% -- believe they have a clear idea of what this war is all about. Gallup has asked this question during the Persian Gulf War, the Vietnam War and World War II. Never before have so many Americans professed to have a clear understanding of what a war is about as do so now. Only as many as 73% in a November 1942 poll said they had a clear idea of what World War II was about. Roughly three-quarters of Americans said they understood what the United States was doing in Iraq prior to the start of fighting in the Persian Gulf War. And just 49% said they had a clear idea of what the United States was fighting for in Vietnam, while 48% did not, according to a May 1967 poll.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,012 adults, 18 years and older, conducted Nov. 2-4, 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 3 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.

Thinking about something else,

Do you approve or disapprove of the current U.S. military action in Afghanistan?

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Nov 2-4

86%

11

3

       

2001 Oct 19-21

88%

10

2



Do you [approve/disapprove] strongly or only moderately?

COMBINED RESPONSES (Q.11/Q.12)

 

 

Strongly approve

Moderately approve

Moderately disapprove

Strongly disapprove

No
opinion

           

2001 Nov 2-4

71%

15

5

6

3



Do you favor or oppose the U.S. sending large numbers of ground troops into combat in Afghanistan?

 

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

       

2001 Nov 2-4

66%

28

6



Do you feel that you have a clear idea of what this war is all about--that is, what we are fighting for?

 

 

Yes

No

No opinion

 

%

%

%

War on Terrorism

     

2001 Nov 2-4

89

10

1

       

Involvement in Iraq

     

1998 Feb 20-22

75

23

2

       

Persian Gulf War

     

1991 Jul 18-21

81

18

1

1990 Dec 13-16

74

24

2

1990 Nov 29-Dec 2

73

27

*

1990 Nov 15-18

69

29

2

1990 Sep 27-30

75

23

2

1990 Aug 30-Sep 2

76

23

1

1990 Aug 23-26

70

28

2

1990 Aug 16-19

75

24

1

       

Vietnam War

     

1967 May 11-16

49

48

3

       

World War II

     

1944 Mar 31-Apr 4

59

41

--

1942 Dec 4-9

68

32

--

1942 Nov 21-26

73

27

--

       

* Less than 0.5%

     


How satisfied are you with the amount of progress made by the U.S. military in the war in Afghanistan -- very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, not too satisfied, or not at all satisfied?

BASED ON -- 468 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A; ±5 PCT. PTS.

 

 

Very
satisfied

Somewhat satisfied

Not too satisfied

Not at all satisfied

No
opinion

           

2001 Nov 2-4

27%

52

11

7

3



In your opinion, do you think the current U.S. military action in Afghanistan has been successful, unsuccessful, or is it too soon to tell?

BASED ON -- 544 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B; ±5 PCT. PTS.

 

 

Successful

Unsuccessful

Too soon to tell

No opinion

         

2001 Nov 2-4

17%

6

76

1



In dealing with the problem of terrorism, which do you think the United States government should do -- [ROTATED: use only diplomatic and economic pressure (or) use military forces in combat along with diplomatic and economic pressure]?

 

 

Use diplomatic/ economic only

Use military
forces in combat

OTHER
(vol.)

No
opinion

         

2001 Nov 2-4

6%

89

1

4

         

(vol.) Volunteered response



How long would you be willing to use combat forces to deal with the problem of terrorism -- less than one year, one to two years, three to five years, or more than five years if it takes that long?

BASED ON -- 901 -- WHO SAY USE MILITARY FORCES IN COMBAT ALONG WITH DIPLOMATIC/ECONOMIC PRESSURES; ±4 PCT. PTS.

 

 

Less than one year

One-two years

Three-five years

More than five years

No
opinion

           

2001 Nov 2-4

8%

15

10

63

4



COMBINED RESPONSES (Q.18/Q.19)

 

2001 Nov 2-4

%

Use diplomatic/economic pressure only

6

Use military forces in combat along with diplomatic/economic pressure

89

For less than one year

(7)

For one-two years

(13)

For three-five years

(9)

For more than five years if it takes that long

(56)

Unspecified length of time

(4)

OTHER (vol.)

1

No opinion

4

(vol.) Volunteered response



Continuing to think about how the U.S. government should deal with terrorism -- which would you prefer -- [ROTATED: to continue with the use of combat forces regardless of how many U.S. military service people are killed, (or) to stop using combat forces if the number of U.S. military service people who are killed becomes too high]?

BASED ON -- 901 -- WHO SAY USE MILITARY FORCES IN COMBAT ALONG WITH DIPLOMATIC/ECONOMIC PRESSURES; ±4 PCT. PTS.

 

 


Continue regardless of service people killed

Stop if number of service people killed becomes too high


No
opinion

       

2001 Nov 2-4

53%

41

6



COMBINED RESPONSES (Q.18/Q.20)

 

2001 Nov 2-4

%

Use diplomatic/economic pressure only

6

Use military forces in combat along with diplomatic/economic pressure

89

Continue with combat forces regardless of service people killed

(47)

Stop using combat forces if number of service people killed becomes too high

(36)

Unsure

(6)

OTHER (vol.)

1

No opinion

4

(vol.) Volunteered response



How many U.S. military service people do you think would be too high a number killed and would cause you to stop supporting the use of military forces -- one hundred, one thousand, five thousand, ten thousand, or some higher number?

BASED ON -- 355 -- WHO SAY STOP USING COMBAT FORCES IF NUMBER OF U.S. MILITARY SERVICE PEOPLE KILLED BECOMES TOO HIGH; ±6 PCT. PTS.

 

 

 



100



1,000



5,000



10,000

Some higher number


No
opinion

             

2001 Nov 2-4

24%

27

15

12

13

9



COMBINED RESPONSES (Q.18/Q.20/Q.21)

 

2001 Nov 2-4

%

Use diplomatic/economic pressure only

6

Use military forces in combat along with diplomatic/economic pressure

89

Continue with combat forces regardless of service people killed

(47)

Stop using combat forces if number of service people killed becomes too high

(36)

Stop if 100 U.S. service people killed

(9)

Stop if 1,000 U.S. service people killed

(10)

Stop if 5,000 U.S. service people killed

(5)

Stop if 10,000 U.S. service people killed

(4)

Stop if some higher number U.S. service people killed

(5)

Unspecified number

(3)

Unsure

(6)

OTHER (vol.)

1

No opinion

4

(vol.) Volunteered response



Thinking specifically about Afghanistan, how long would you be willing to continue using military action in Afghanistan without either capturing Osama bin Laden or removing the Taliban from power -- six months or less, one year, two to three years, more than three years, or do you think the U.S. military action should stop now?

 

 

Six months or less


One year

Two-three years

More than three years

Should
stop now

No
opinion

             

2001 Nov 2-4

11%

21

23

34

6

5



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