Fear of War: Pope says ‘War is madness,’ but is it inevitable?

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Fear of War
Spread of ISIL in the Middle East

THE SPREAD OF ISIL, (aka The Islamic State) as of mid-September 2014: GRAY is controlled by ISIL; SALMON is controlled by the Syrian government; MINT GREEN is controlled by Syrian rebels; GOLD is controlled by Syrian Kurds; YELLOW-GREEN is controlled by Iraqi Kurds; MAGENTA is controlled by the Iraqi Government. (Map courtesy of Wikipedia.)

“War is madness,” said Pope Francis in a papal Mass to remember the victims of the First World War. The Mass took place two days ago in northeast Italy, a scene of intense combat between Italian and Austro-Hungarian troops in the war.

“Greed, intolerance, the lust for power—these motives underlie the decision to go to war,” said the pontiff, “and they are too often justified by an ideology; but first there is a distorted passion or impulse.” You can read the pope’s entire message here.

Just a few days prior, Obama addressed the nation, outlining his strategy to deal with the growing terrorist threat. The objective, he said, is “to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.”

Considering these and other international news stories in recent days: Do you fear a new round of war?

Many Americans feel unsafe. New polls report that more Americans feel unsafe now than at any time since 9/11. Almost half of Americans (47%) say the nation is less safe, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Almost all Americans (94%) say they have heard of the beheadings of the two American journalists, the poll reports—and this poll was taken before the claim of a third beheading, this one of a British journalist.

A clear majority of Americans (61%) favor military action against ISIS (which the administration calls ISIL, with the L that denotes “land” rather than “state”). These supporters say that military action is in the nation’s interest.

Four of ten Americans (40%) say that military action should be limited to air strikes, while about a third (34%) say that air strikes and combat troops should be involved. Only 15% say that we should abstain from military action.

Do you agree with the Pope that “war is madness”?
Do you think war is inevitable?
Do you fear a new round of war?

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Categories: Security

Fear of War: Could YOU become a victim of terrorism?

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Fear of War
176 victim photos of the 9 11 attacks

176 VICTIMS ON “9/11” This photo array comes from one of the many online displays of the nearly 3,000 victims in those 2001 terrorist attacks. It takes 17 of these 176-photo arrays to represent all 3,000 victims.

Diplomats from 25 nations gathered yesterday in Paris to discuss strategies for responding to the growing threat of ISIS (also known as ISIL), the jihadist group responsible for a wave of atrocities, including three beheadings of Westerners. While the focus is on a coordinated global response, almost half of Americans feel we are less safe at home now than we were before 9/11. Many Americans are worried about terrorist acts on our soil.

Personally, how worried are you that you—or a member of your family—will be a victim of terrorism?

Just over four of ten Americans (41%) say they are worried, according to a CNN/ORC poll taken about a week ago. Thirteen percent say they are very worried that they or a member of their family will be a victim of terrorism.

How well is the U.S. government doing to reduce the threat of terrorism?

Only 17% of Americans say the government is doing very well, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, with an additional 39% saying that the government is doing fairly well. Almost two of ten (19%) feel the government is not doing at all well to reduce the threat, more than double the number that felt the same way in 2013.

You can see some of the results from both polls I’ve cited in this aggregation of recent polls.

Of course, the results I’ve just reported might change as the response to ISIS unfolds. Already, well over 100 airstrikes have taken place.

How worried are you that you or your family will be a victim of terrorism?

Is the U.S. government doing enough to reduce the threat of terrorism?

Will the 25-nation response to ISIS reduce—or raise—the threat of terrorism at home?

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Categories: Security

Fear of War: U.S. troops back on the ground?

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Fear of War
Joint Chiefs Chairman General Dempsey

This week, General Dempsey called into question the claim that no American military personnel will be deployed on the ground in the current crisis with ISIL.

“No boots on the ground” is a mantra with the Obama Administration. The president reiterated this theme in his recent address to the nation, stating that the effort to fight ISIL “will not involve American combat troops on foreign soil.”

But do you think we will see U.S. combat troops on the ground anyway?

Despite Obama’s pledge, voices are rising that advocate for the use of U.S. ground troops. In August, a Washington Post editorial stated that the administration “must put boots on the ground to stop the Islamic State.” House Speaker John Boehner recently said that the use of ground troops should not be ruled out.

The most telling remarks, however, came in the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that took place yesterday. Both Secretary of State Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) testified. As widely reported, the nation’s top military commander said that U.S. troops on the ground were a possibility, if airstrikes are not effective. (Here you can view the Department of Defense’s video of the hearing.)

A majority of Americans support airstrikes against the jihadist group, but only about a third say that combat troops should be used, too.

Do you support or oppose the use of U.S. troops to combat ISIL?

Regardless of your support or opposition, do you think that the U.S. “boots on the ground” is inevitable?

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Categories: Security

Fear of War: Sacrifice civil liberties for more security?

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Fear of War

Click the graphic to read the entire Pew report.

National security and civil liberty are often at odds.

More of one means less of the other. Today, what’s your greater concern: that Obama’s latest anti-terror policies won’t go far enough to adequately protect the nation from external and internal threats, or that the policies will go too far in restricting civil liberties?

Since 2001, the Pew Research Center has asked questions about the tradeoff of security and liberty. In 2001, over half of Americans (55%) said that it would be necessary to give up some civil liberties to curb terrorism. Just over a third (35%) disagreed. My surveys of the greater Detroit region in 2003 revealed the same pattern: 55% of the general population was willing to give up some civil liberties to curb terrorism. But I also found out that 47% of Arab Americans were also willing to do so.

In the year since, a majority of Americans have felt that it’s not necessary to give up civil liberties to curb terrorism. The peak was 2009, when 65% said so.

I predict a reversal, given the high level of fear that Americans now have of becoming victims of terrorism. The fact that some English-speaking Europeans and Americans have joined the ranks of the jihadists—and could return to do harm at home—is a key reason why we will see much more concern about beefing up security, and much less concern about government overreach and intrusion into the lives of private citizens.

How willing are you to give up civil liberties for more safety and security?

Have recent events persuaded you to emphasize security more than before?

Do you think it will be necessary to infringe on civil liberties to curb terrorism at home and abroad?

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