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NEW POLL: Veterans, Americans in General are Skeptical of Status Quo; Aren't Convinced Military Intervention Results in Greater Security

 

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- A new poll shows Americans are unaware of the United States' current overseas commitments, disconnected with the burden placed on military families, and believe our men and women in uniform are overstretched. By and large, our nation's veterans share this perspective.

This comes on the heels of the revelation that the U.S. military is deployed in Niger, a fact which was unknown to 71% of the general public and 55% of veterans. The poll, released today by the Charles Koch Institute (CKI) and RealClearPolitics, surveyed 1,000 members of the American public, including 500 active military and veterans. The survey, taken at the end of October 2017, showed Americans are not confident that U.S. military involvement abroad makes their families safer at home.

"Americans are unclear of all the places where the U.S. military is engaged, concerned about whether our foreign policy has been making us safer, and wary of war with North Korea. These views are also shared by veterans," said Will Ruger, vice president for research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute. "This survey shows that veterans are actually a diverse group when it comes to issues of using force abroad. They aren't all enthusiastic about relying on military power to solve problems, as is sometimes stereotypically assumed. The majority don't believe that challenging the wisdom of the United States current approach to the world is unpatriotic and are divided on things like whether additional military engagement abroad would make America safer."

"United States foreign policy, and the public's attitude about it, is an incredibly important issue that too often gets short shrift in the current political climate," said David Craig, editor of RealClearDefense. "This survey shines a spotlight on the issue and provides valuable insights into what voters AND military veterans think about the cost and conduct of America's foreign policy."

Poll results show that Americans and veterans, alike, lack confidence in the ability of our government decision-makers and foreign policy elite to make us safer:

  • Some 71% of both military veterans and the general population feel that the number of terrorists that intend harm against Americans has increased over the past 20 years.
  • A majority of the general public and a plurality of military veterans believe that a military intervention in North Korea would compromise American security. In fact, 57% of the general public and 47% of veterans share this perspective.
  • Overwhelmingly, respondents from the military and the general public believe that foreign interventions demand a clear exit strategy.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, 77% of veterans—and some 67% of the American public—feel that the average civilian does not understand the toll deployment takes on service members and their families.
  • Regardless of who occupies the White House, both groups overwhelmingly (76% of veterans and 79% of the general population) feel that the president must seek Congressional authorization before ordering a military intervention in a country that did not attack the United States.

AMERICANS AREN'T CONVINCED U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTION HAS MADE THE COUNTRY SAFER

VeteransWhen asked if United States foreign policy over the past 20 years made the United States more or less safe, 41% said less safe, 35% said more, and 19% said safety levels had stayed the same.

  • General Population: 43% said less safe, 28% said more, and 21% said safety levels had stayed the same.

VeteransWhen asked if United States foreign policy over the past 20 years had made the world more or less safe, 40% said less safe, 35% said more, and 19% said safety levels had stayed the same.

  • General Population: 40% said less safe, 28% said more, and 20% said safety levels had stayed the same.

Veterans: When asked if the number of terrorists threatening to harm the United States had increased, decreased, or stayed the same over the past two decades, 71% said there are more terrorists threatening the United States. Only 9% said there were fewer while 18% said the number stayed the same, and 2% did not know.

  • General Population: 71% said there are more terrorists threatening the United States. 6% said there were fewer, 20% said the number stayed the same, and 4% did not know.

Veterans: When asked if additional military engagement abroad would make America more or less safe, 40% of respondents said more safe, 34% said less safe, and 18% said neither more or less safe.

  • General Population: Only 27% of respondents said more safe, 41% said less safe and 19% said neither more or less safe.

Veterans: When asked if military intervention in North Korea would make the United States safer, 47% said it would create a situation that is more dangerous. Only 33% said intervention would make our country safer. 12% said it would neither make us more or less safe and 9% did not know.

  • General Population: 57% said it would create a situation that is more dangerous. Only 20% said intervention would make our country safer; 11% said it would neither make us more or less safe and 12% did not know. 

AMERICANS WANT CLEAR LIMITS ON MILITARY INTERVENTION AND SERVICE

Veterans: Veterans believe that it is acceptable to question the wisdom of America's leading military role in the world. When asked whether they believe it's unpatriotic to question the wisdom of American primacy, 56% said it is not. Just 37% said it is not patriotic while 7% did not know.

  • General Population: 63% said it is not unpatriotic. Just 29% said it is not patriotic while 8% did not know.

Veterans: 76% of respondents said the president should have to get Congressional authorization before committing U.S. military intervention in a country that did not attack the United States or Americans. Only 21% said the president does not need authorization; 3% did not know.

  • General Population: 79% of respondents said the president should have to get Congressional authorization. Only 15% said the president does not need authorization; 6% did not know.

Veterans: 78% of respondents believe the U.S. military should have an exit strategy before intervening in a foreign country. (58% of whom think it's very important.) 16% said they don't believe it's important and 3% said it's neither important nor unimportant. 

  • General Population: 74% of voters believe the U.S. military should have an exit strategy. (50% of whom think it's very important.) 16% said they don't believe it's important and 6% said it's neither important nor unimportant.

Veterans: 61% of respondents said the U.S. military currently is overextended. Only 32% said it is not. Another 7% did not know.

  • General Population: Americans are also weary of intervention. 50% of respondents said the U.S. military currently is overextended. Only 36% said it is not. Another 14% did not know.

AMERICANS ARE ONLY SOMEWHAT AWARE OF THE COSTS OF WAR 

Veterans: When asked what percentage of the federal budget goes to the U.S. military, the median answer was 25%.

  • General Population: The median answer was 30%.

Veterans: When asked if they knew the United States had troops in Niger before hearing about recent American military casualties there, 55% said they were not; 42% were aware and 2% said they did not know.

  • General Population: 71% said they were not aware the U.S. military was embedded in Niger; 26% were aware and 4% said they did not know.

Veterans: When asked if the average American civilian understands the impact of deployment on service members and their families, 21% said yes, 77% said no, and 2% did not know.

  • General Population: 26% said yes, 67% said no, and 7% did not know.

Veterans: 29% said they are very confident in the quality of medical care that United States veterans receive through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); 41% said somewhat confident and 24% said not at all confident.

  • General Population: 18% said they are very confident in the quality of medical care that United States veterans receive through the VA; 34% said they are not at all confident and 38% said they are somewhat confident in the quality of medical care that veterans receive through the VA.

AMERICANS DON'T NECESSARILY TRUST POLITICAL, MILITARY LEADERS

Veterans: When asked about the leaders who send troops abroad, 62% said they would trust them more if they served in the military themselves or have kids who have served; 12% said they might trust them less and 26% said it would not matter.

  • General Population: 55% said they would trust leaders more if they served in the military themselves or have kids who have served; 12% said they would trust them less, and 32% said it would not matter.

Veterans: 45% said they do not believe the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is a good steward of taxpayer money and does a poor job managing resources and funds; 44% said the DoD is a good steward and manager and 11% did not know.

  • General Population: 42% don't believe the DoD is a good steward of taxpayer money and does a poor job managing resources and funds; 38% said the DoD is a good steward and manager and 20% did not know.

Veterans: 76% believe waste is a problem when it comes to military spending, including 36% who believe waste is a significant problem. Only 22% believe waste is not a problem or not much of a problem; 2% did not know.

  • General Population: 77% believe waste is a problem when it comes to military spending, including 36% who believe waste is a significant problem. Only 17% believe waste is not a problem or not much of a problem; 5% did not know.

A leading survey research firm, Survey Sampling International, fielded the nationwide survey from October 26 to 31 of 2017. The survey had 1,000 respondents. Half of those respondents were current or former members of the U.S. military. The other half of respondents were from the general population of the United States. Half of all participants were surveyed using a web-based opt-in panel and half of all recipients were surveyed using random phone dialing. This even split of survey mode was preserved across both samples—the general public and military veterans. Results for the general public sample are weighted to be representative of the national population. The data from military veterans are un-weighted. The estimated margin of error for the general population sample is +/- 4 percentage points.

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES, PLEASE CONTACT:

CHARLES KOCH INSTITUTE

The Charles Koch Institute is an educational organization focused on the importance of free societies and how they increase well-being for the overwhelming majority of people. Through the Institute's professional education, research, and training programs, the Institute works to prepare professionals for careers that improve well-being by advancing free societies.

REALCLEARPOLITICS

RealClear Media Group (RCMG), led by its flagship brand RealClearPolitics, encompasses 15 specialty areas of coverage, with original reporting from our staff of seasoned reporters, live events, the well-known RCP Poll Average, and original video. With a wide array of news and analysis available online, insiders rely on RealClear's sites as a go-to source for reporting, commentary, and analysis on all sides of the most pressing issues impacting news and politics."

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SOURCE Charles Koch Institute

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