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Public Opinion Snapshot: Americans and Israelis Urge Caution on Military Action Against Iran

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Conservatives in the United States are indulging in a lot of saber rattling lately, accusing the Obama adminstration of not being sufficiently eager to launch a military strike against Iran. Over in Israel, President Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling conservative coalition has been doing much of the same. The possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran needs to be taken very seriously, of course, but war is also very serious and not to be rushed into. That measured-but-firm approach is shared by the majority of Americans and Israelis.

In the United States a recent CNN poll found that when the public is given a choice between immediate military action, economic and diplomatic efforts to get Iran to shut down its nuclear program, and no action, the dominant choice is economic and diplomatic efforts (60 percent). Just 17 percent want military action now. Only 22 percent prefer to take no action.

Similarly, in Israel a recent collaborative poll between the Sadat Chair at the University of Maryland and Israel’s Dahaf Institute finds that only 19 percent of Israelis want to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities unilaterally while 42 percent believe such a strike needs U.S. support. Thirty-four percent of Israelis are opposed to a strike.

Conservatives should be aware that aggressive saber rattling in favor of a unilateral strike on Iran does not resonate with the majority of the public in either the United States or Israel. These Americans and Israelis understand, even if conservatives do not, that military action against Iran should not be pursued unilaterally and without exploration of alternatives.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis, go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.

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This is part of a regular column: Public Opinion Snapshot

For more from the same column, click here