07/13/06 FOX News Poll: North Korea Wants Attention, Not War

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Americans think North Korea poses a real security threat to the United States, yet even after its recent missile launches the latest FOX News Poll finds that the public would rather continue with diplomacy than carry out a preemptive military strike. A majority thinks North Korea is trying to get attention and aid from the United States, not trying to provoke war.

These are just some of the findings of the new national telephone poll of 900 registered voters conducted from July 11 to July 12 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation for FOX News. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

Overall, more than six of 10 Americans (62 percent) think North Korea poses a real national security threat to the United States.

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In addition, after the recent failed missile tests, many Americans think North Korea is more of a threat because it went through with the launches (62 percent), though some now think it is less of a threat because its missiles did not work (18 percent).

Despite North Korea going through with the launches in the face of international pressure against doing so, by more than three-to-one Americans think the United States should "give diplomacy more of a chance" (68 percent) instead of taking preemptive military strikes (20 percent). Large majorities of independents (75 percent) and Democrats (71 percent) prefer diplomacy, as does a clear majority of Republicans (58 percent).

One reason a majority of the public supports diplomacy over action may be that by 54 percent to 37 percent Americans think the situation in Iraq has led the United States to be less aggressive with North Korea and Iran than it should be.

"Americans are very frustrated by the situation in Iraq," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "No matter where they are on the political spectrum or where they stood on going to war in the first place, Americans want to see some resolution in Iraq. Until that happens, they are going to be wary of starting any other kind of action that may drag on without clear resolution."

Thinking about North Korea’s motivations for the missile launches, it’s clear that Americans think it is just trying to get attention to obtain more international aid (58 percent) as opposed to deliberately trying to provoke war with the United States (17 percent).

The public thinks the United States should distrust any agreements it may make with North Korea (67 percent), and views are mixed on whether a United Nations resolution will help (9 percent help "a lot" and 39 percent "some") or be no help at all in preventing North Korea from continuing to develop its weapons program (46 percent).

The United States is looking to China and Russia to help get North Korea and Iran to stop their weapons programs and return to disarmament talks. Americans have mixed views on whether China is actively trying to help the United States (30 percent) or "actually helping North Korea and Iran" (35 percent). Similarly, about the same number think Russia is helping the U.S. (32 percent) as think it is helping the "axis-of-evil" countries (31 percent).

The biggest concern is that North Korea would sell weapons to terrorists (42 percent); far fewer Americans say they are most concerned about a direct attack on the United States (16 percent) or an attack on one of North Korea’s neighbors (14 percent).

People say they are confident U.S. intelligence agencies are getting accurate information on the Iranian and North Korean governments (16 percent "very" and 44 percent "somewhat" confident).

What would have happened if North Korea’s long-range missile launch had approached the United States instead of falling into the Sea of Japan? A 52 percent majority thinks the U.S. anti-ballistic missile system would have successfully shot down the missile, 18 percent disagree and 29 percent are unsure.

PDF: Click here for full poll results.