Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CNN poll: 64% of Americans say US military aid to Israel should be kept the same/increased

(CNN) - Hours before a CNN GOP presidential debate that focuses heavily on national security and foreign affairs, a new national survey indicates there are wide partisan divides between Democrats and Republicans over some top global flashpoints.

Overall, Republicans are ready and willing to use U.S. military force in other countries; Independents and Democrats tend to be very reluctant to do so. From President Obama's decision to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq, to the conflict in Afghanistan, aid to Israel, the practice of "waterboarding" and the political battle over immigration reform and border security, a CNN/ORC International Poll released Tuesday indicates a Democrats and Republicans don't see eye to eye.


Americans have grown increasingly reluctant to use U.S. military force around the world, but - unlike Democrats and independents - Republicans feel that the U.S. should be ready and willing to take military action. Overall, 53% of all Americans say the U.S. should be very reluctant to use military force, up from 38% in 2002, about a year after the 9/11 attacks. But there is a big partisan divide on that question, with a majority of Democrats and independents expressing reluctance but only four in ten Republicans feeling that way.


President Obama's plan to withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of the year is wildly popular among Democrats and independents, but most Republicans believe that Obama should keep some combat troops in Iraq beyond that deadline. One reason may be that a bare majority of Republicans continue to favor the war in Iraq; Democrats and independents are opposed to the war in large numbers. Overall, six in ten Americans say that they favor Obama's plan to bring all U.S. troops home from Iraq - not surprising when only 8% of the public believes that there are goals that the U.S. has not achieved in that country but would be able to do so if troops remained. But 54% of Republicans want to see a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq; only 42% agree with Obama's plan. There is a similar partisan divide on Afghanistan, which remains just about the only Obama policy that Republicans support.


A large number of Americans don't think the U.S. should take immediate military action to get Iran to shut down its nuclear program, and on this topic Democrats, independents, and Republicans agree. Overall, only 16% of all Americans support military action now; two-thirds want to see the U.S. use economic and diplomatic efforts against Iran rather than military action. Republicans are slightly more likely to support military action, but even among that group support rises to only 22%.


Aid to Israel has been in the news recently as the result of some comments made at the last GOP debate, held earlier this month in South Carolina, but there is little debate among Republicans nationwide on that issue. Nearly seven in ten Republicans believe that economic aid to Israel should be increased or kept the same; more than eight in ten say the same about military aid to Israel. Democrats and independents are more likely to oppose either form of aid to Israel, although all groups favor military aid to that country.