One in Four Americans Would Use Nukes Against Terrorists
One in Four Americans Would Use Nukes Against Terrorists, Gallup Finds (Editor and Publisher)
More than one in four Americans would go so far as to utilize nuclear bombs if need be in the fight against terrorism, according to a national survey reported today by The Gallup Organization. Gallup asked Americans whether they would be willing or not willing “to have the U.S. government do each of the following” and then listed an array of options. For example,”assassinate known terrorists” drew the support of 65% of all adults. “Torture known terrorists if they know details about future terrorist attacks in the U.S.” won the backing of 39%.
Finally, the option of using “nuclear weapons to attack terrorist facilities” drew the support of 27% of adults, with 72% opposing, which would shatter the taboo on using these weapons militarily since the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Experts agree that the power of today’s weapons, their range of damage and the peril of drifting radioactive fallout far exceeds the bombs used against Japan. That support has declined 7% since 2001, however.
The link to the actual poll is here, but it just describes the content, with the actual survey results limited to subscribers. I was also unable to locate the poll on sites of CNN and USA Today, who commissioned the survey.
The wording, though, is critical. If it conveys that nuclear weapons against the facility was the only way to prevent the attack, I’d be quite surprised indeed if only 27% would be willing. On the other hand, it’s difficult to conceive of a rationale where the employment of nukes would be a useful counter-terrorism measure.