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Friday, December 08, 2006

Americans Believe U.S. International Strategy Has Backfired

A new poll finds that a majority of Americans believe that the way the United States has been using the threat of military force has diminished U.S. security.

Sixty-three percent believe that countries around the world have grown more afraid that the United States will use force against them and the same number thinks this is bad for U.S. security. Eighty percent believe that fear of the United States has increased "the likelihood that countries will try to acquire weapons of mass destruction."

The poll included interviews with a nationwide sample of 1,326 Americans conducted Nov. 21 to 29. It was developed in conjunction with the conference, "Leveraging U.S. Strength in an Uncertain World," held by the Stanley Foundation Dec. 7 at the Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C.

The study was fielded by Knowledge Networks using its probability-based online panel; for information about this methodology, go to

Sixty-one percent believe that the U.S. invasion of Iraq has increased the likelihood that Iran will build weapons of mass destruction. This is a sharp shift from 2003 when only 24 percent believed that the invasion increased the likelihood of Iran acquiring WMD while 68 percent thought it decreased that possibility.

Steven Kull, editor of, comments, "Most Americans now believe that the recent thrust of U.S. foreign policy has backfired: As the U.S. has provoked greater fear of U.S. military force, countries have reacted in ways that have reduced U.S. security."

When asked how the United States should deal with Iran, a large majority (75 percent) prefers trying "to build better relations" with Iran, rather than "pressuring it with implied threats that the U.S. may use military force against it," (22 percent). Eight in 10 believe that threatening to bomb Iran's uranium enrichment facilities would not deter the Iranians from continuing their nuclear program.

A large majority (72 percent) does not think the United States should announce it is pursuing regime change in countries, such as Iran, which the United States sees as a problem. Eight in 10 also reject the policy of isolating, rather than talking to, problem countries.


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