September 8, 2006

U.S. Military Overseas and Terrorism Threat

32%

That’s the percentage of Americans who now think that increasing the U.S. military presence overseas is the best way to reduce the threat of terrorist attacks on the U.S. — a sharp decline from the 48% plurality who thought so on the first anniversary of 9/11.

Five years later, Americans’ views of the impact of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have changed little, but opinions about how best to protect against future attacks have shifted substantially. In particular, far more Americans say reducing America’s overseas military presence, rather than expanding it, will have a greater effect in reducing the threat of terrorism. By a 45% to 32% margin, more Americans believe that the best way to reduce the threat of terrorist attacks on the U.S. is to decrease, not increase, America’s military presence overseas. This is a stark reversal from the public’s position on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. In the summer of 2002, before serious public discussion of removing Saddam Hussein from power had begun, nearly half (48%) said that the best way to reduce terrorism was to increase our military involvement overseas, while just 29% said less involvement would make us safer. Read More