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Almost half of Americans feel less safe now than before 9/11

Almost half of Americans feel less safe now than before 9/11 attacks, poll says
NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey finds Islamic State killings have left a mark


On the eve of the 13th anniversary of 9/11, almost half of Americans feel less safe than they did before the attacks, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds.

According to the poll conducted Sept. 3-7, 47 percent of 1,000 registered voters surveyed said the country is less safe than before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. That's more than twice the level of fear among Americans a year after the attacks, when 20 percent said the country was less safe, and an increase of 19 percentage points from last year.

And 26 percent of Americans now believe the nation is safer than before 9/11. (Twenty-six percent said they feel about as safe.)

The poll comes after the beheadings of a pair of American journalists at the hands of Islamic State militants, and ahead of President Barack Obama's prime-time address to the nation on Wednesday night, when he is expected to lay out the U.S. plan to combat extremists in Syria and Iraq.

According to the poll, 61 percent of American voters support the United States taking military action against IS, the terrorist group also known as ISIS and ISIL, which wants to establish an Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. Thirteen percent believe such action is not in the United Statesí interest, while 24 percent said they donít know enough to have an opinion. However, 40 percent of Americans said U.S. military action against IS should be limited to airstrikes, while 34 percent said they would support airstrikes and the use of combat troops.

A CNN poll released this week found 61 percent of Americans oppose placing U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq and Syria to combat IS, while 38 percent do not oppose that strategy.

That's a significant shift over a year ago, when a similar NBC/WSJ poll, conducted after widespread reporting that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own people, found little support for U.S. military action in Syria. In that poll, 21 percent of Americans supported military action against Syria, while 33 percent did not.

Homeland Security officials testified on Wednesday that IS doesn't pose an immediate threat of an attack inside the United States, but it does "have the ability to attack American targets overseas with little or no warning."

But video of the beheadings, disseminated around the world through social media, appears to have had an effect. According to the recent NBC/WSJ poll, 94 percent of Americans said they had heard about the news of the beheaded journalists ó a figure "higher than any other news event" the poll has measured over the past five years.
Americans back air strikes on Islamic State, wary of long haul: poll

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans support President Barack Obama's campaign of air strikes against Islamic State militants but have a low appetite for a long campaign against the group, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Friday.

Sixty-four percent of people in the online survey said they backed the campaign, which Obama said in a televised address this week is being escalated and spread beyond Iraq to Syria. Twenty-one percent were opposed and 16 percent said they did not know.

The poll result is good news for Obama as he tries to build support at home for attacking IS, as well as putting together a coalition of allies against the militant group which has taken a swath of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Weary after years of ground war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans look favorably on air strikes because they are less risky, said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

"People see air strikes as surgical. They think we are able to go in and do something that affects in a negative way this horrible group of people and we are able to extract ourselves with only a very low risk to American lives," she said.

But when asked if they supported the air campaign even if it lasts two or three years, the proportion of those in favor dropped to 53 percent. Twenty-eight percent were against a long air campaign and 19 percent said they did not know.

"There's absolutely no appetite for re-engagement in that region in any prolonged way so we see that support drop off," Clark said.

The poll was conducted almost entirely after Obama's speech about Islamic State on Wednesday night.

Obama's plan to fight Islamic State simultaneously in Iraq and Syria thrusts the United States directly into the midst of two different wars, in which nearly every country in the region has a stake, alliances have shifted and strategy is entangled with Islam's 1,300-year-old rift between Sunnis and Shi'ites.

Islamic State is made up of Sunni militants, who are fighting against a Shi'ite-led government in Iraq and a government in Syria led by members of a Shi'ite offshoot sect.

It also battles against rival Sunni Islamists and more moderate Sunni groups in Syria, and Kurds on both sides of the border.

In the last month, Islamic State outraged many Americans by beheading two U.S. journalists whom it had held captive.

When asked what is the best response to the threat posed by the Islamic State, 44 percent of people in the Reuters/Ipsos poll said air strikes while only 9 percent favored sending American troops to fight the militants.

Poll respondent Aggie Kuhn, a retired nurse from Ellis in western Kansas, said she strongly favored strikes in part because the United States was partially responsible for Iraq after invading the country in 2003.

"I think we do have a responsibility," she said. "We started things over there."

But she was more lukewarm to the idea of a drawn-out air campaign, especially if countries neighboring Iraq and Syria are not supportive of U.S. military action.

"We have to re-evaluate our position and re-evaluate where the people nearby are. Are we getting support from them? Where is the rest of the international community? It's not one of these things where you want to get into it for 10 years," Kuhn said.

A quarter of respondents said the United States should fund and support a multinational intervention against the group.

A total of 988 people answered the questions about whether Americans support or oppose air strikes from Sept. 10 to 12.

For the question on the best response to Islamic State, 522 people responded on Sept. 11 and 12.

The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In the questions about support from air strikes the credibility interval was 3.6 percentage points. It was 4.9 percentage points for the question about the best response. Forum Index -> America NEWS
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