Poll: Over Half of Americans Support Using Force to Defend Allies Against North Korea

DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA, - : This undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 21, 2016 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting maneuvers for attack and defence between large combined units of the Korean People's Army (KPA) staged in three directions …

The Pew Research Center has released a new poll that shows Americans have a very low opinion of North Korea and would support the use of military force against it should Pyongyang assault an American ally.

Roughly two-thirds of Americans (65%) are very concerned about North Korea having nuclear weapons. And 64% say that in the event of a serious conflict, the United States should use military force to defend its Asian allies, such as Japan, South Korea or the Philippines, against the Pyongyang regime, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. A further 61% think sanctions, rather than attempts at closer ties, are the best way to deal with the nuclear threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Overall, 78% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the communist nation ruled by Kim Jong Un, with 61% holding a very unfavorable opinion.

Pew notes that Americans from both sides of the partisan divide and all demographic groups give North Korea low marks. The most significant demographic difference is with tcollege-educated Americans, who hold a much more negative view of North Korea than those with a high school education.

On the more specific question of North Korea’s nuclear program, 74 percent of Republicans declared themselves “very concerned” compared to 66 percent of Democrats. The age differential is much more pronounced than partisan differences, with respondents over 50 almost twice as likely to cite North Korean nukes as a matter of great concern than 18- to 29-year-olds.

61 percent of poll respondents favored maintaining or increasing sanctions on North Korea, versus only 28 percent that favored more open and friendly relations as the solution. Again, older people were considerably more determined to maintain sanctions than young people.

These results track with Gallup’s February poll on North Korea, which actually found North Korea’s unfavorable marks slightly higher. At 86 percent, it was the highest unfavorable rating of 21 countries Gallup tested. Eleven percent actually gave North Korea favorable ratings. Iran came in right behind North Korea with a 12 percent favorability rating.

According to Gallup, North Korea’s ratings have slipped considerably over the past decade; they scored 23 percent to 31 percent favorable as recently as 2002.

The Pew Research Center suggests its poll will give President Trump useful feedback as he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping, reassuring the U.S. president that Americans see North Korea as a serious problem and support tough measures against it.

As it happens, Pew also conducted a poll of American attitudes on China and found a remarkable increase in popular opinion over the past year – from 37 percent positive in 2016 to 44 percent positive today. This was thought to reflect a declining portion of Americans who worry about the trade deficit with China or see it as an economic threat. This poll found Republicans had a much more negative view of China than Democrats.