President Bush's labeling of Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil" is considered an accurate statement by most Americans even if, as some think, it might have been best left unsaid.

About three-quarters of the country think the president's "axis of evil" statement in his State of the Union address last month was correct, but some think he was irresponsible in making the statement. Almost half think the statement was correct and Bush was doing the right thing by stating it, while about a quarter think it was correct but he should not have made the comment. Twelve percent think the statement was simply incorrect.

Thinking specifically about one part of the "axis," Iraq, about 4 in 10 think that the U.S. should get United Nations approval before taking military action, as was recently suggested by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Women and young Americans are among those most likely to support seeking U.N. approval. Over one-third of the public think the U.S. should take military action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein even without U.N. approval, with Republicans being the strongest supporter of this position. Ten percent of the country opposes action against Iraq under any circumstances.

"It seems clear that the vast majority of Americans want to take some action against Iraq, but many are inclined to think it should be in the some international context," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Since the public has become accustomed to quick victories, the administration would be well advised to carefully lay both political and military groundwork before doing anything."

As was the case last year, Iraq comes in second on the list of countries that Americans see as posing the greatest military threat to the U.S. China tops the list with 28 percent saying it is the greatest military threat, 23 percent say Iraq, 7 percent Iran and 6 percent Russia. China also shares top billing on the list of countries that Americans think pose the greatest economic threat. Both Japan and China are identified by 21 percent as the number one economic threat to the U.S. No other country even registers in the double digits.

When asked about the threat of another terrorist attack, 73 percent of the nation think another attack is likely in the near future, about the same number as thought so in early October; however, fewer today think an attack is "very" likely and more say "somewhat" likely.

Likelihood of Another Major Attack:

  Now Oct 2001
Very likely 28% 33%
Somewhat 45 38
Not very 18 16
Not at all 5 6

Americans are more worried today about future terrorist attacks including the use of chemical or biological weapons. In October, 67 percent were worried about an attack of this kind, whereas today, 74 percent say they are worried about chemical or biological weapon attacks. Anthrax-tainted mail has killed five Americans since October.

Overall, the public is equally concerned about the condition of the country's economy and national security. On the personal level, folks are substantially more concerned about their financial situation than they are about their personal security. Almost half say they are concerned about their finances, 27 percent say security and 20 percent say both are a concern.

Polling was conducted by telephone February 12-13, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

1. On the national level, are you more concerned about the economy or about national security?

1. U.S. economy 35%
2. National security 35
3. (Both) 28
4. (Neither) 1
5. (Not sure) 1

2. On a personal level, are you more concerned about your financial situation or about your security?

1. My financial situation 47%
2. My security 27
3. (Both) 20
4. (Neither) 5
5. (Not sure) 1

3. How likely do you think it is that another terrorist attack causing large numbers of American lives to be lost will happen in the near future?

  12-13 Feb 02 3-4 Oct 01
1. Very likely 28% 33%
2. Somewhat likely 45 38
3. Not very likely 18 16
4. Not likely at all 5 6
5. (Not sure) 4 7

4. How worried are you that future terrorist attacks might include the use of chemical or biological weapons?

  12-13 Feb 02 3-4 Oct 01
1. Very worried 32% 32%
2. Worried 42 35
3. Not very worried 14 23
4. Not worried at all 8 8
5. (Not sure) 4 2

5. Since September 11, millions of dollars have been given to charities to help the victims. Some people are worried that much of this giving is not reaching those for whom it is intended. How confident are you that September 11 charity funds are being used properly and the money is reaching those in need?

1. Very confident 11%
2. Somewhat confident 41
3. Not very confident 30
4. Not at all confident 13
5. (Not sure) 5

6. Which country in the world do you think is the greatest military threat to the U.S. today?

  Feb 2002 Feb 2001 Apr 1999 May 1997
(China) 28% 30% 39% 31%
(Iraq) 23 24 9 13
(Iran) 7 3 2 6
(Russia) 6 13 20 15
(Pakistan) 3 1 - -
(India) 1 - - -
(Germany) - - 1 1
(Serbia) - - 1 -
(Other) 8 4 7 10
(No one is a threat) 3 - 3 4
(Dk/Ref) 21 25 18 20

7. Which country in the world do you think is the greatest economic threat to the U.S. today?

  Feb 2002 Feb 2001 Apr 1999 May 1997
(Japan) 21% 28% 27% 43%
(China) 21 23 26 21
(Mexico) 2 3 2 2
(Russia) 2 2 4 3
(Great Britain/England) 1 1 2 1
(Germany) 1 1 2 2
(France) - - - -
(Other) 13 7 8 5
(No one is a threat) 6 - 5 4
(Dk/Ref) 33 35 24 19

8. Russian President Putin has said that the United Nations should approve any attack on Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Do you think the U.S. should:

1. Only attack Hussein after getting UN approval, 42%
2. Go it alone if the UN won’t approve the attack, or 35
3. Not attack Hussein under any circumstances? 10
4. (Not sure) 13

9. In President Bush's recent State of the Union address, he referred to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil." Do you think Bush's statement was:

1. Correct and a responsible thing to say, 49%
2. Correct, but he was irresponsible to say it, or 27
2. Simply an incorrect statement? 12
3. (Mixture) 3
4. (Not sure) 9