US Shouldn't Defend Taiwan, Israel, South Korea Poll

Thursday March 2, 2000

New York – A poll released today indicates that Americans – by large majorities – oppose the United States militarily defending several key allies, including Taiwan, Israel and South Korea.

The poll questioned 1,155 Americans last weekend and asked: "If attacked by another country, should the U.S. help defend militarily, even though it could cost American soldiers their lives, . . ." such hot spots as Kosovo, Israel, Taiwan, South Korea and Kuwait.

In each and every case, a significant majority of respondents said they would oppose using the U.S. military to aid these countries, some long-time U.S. allies. The poll had a statistical margin of error +/- 3%.

The poll results should be particularly troubling for the Taiwanese government. Last week, the Chinese leadership stepped up rhetoric toward Taiwan and stated categorically they would not renounce the use of force to take the island. Taiwan’s jittery stock market slumped.

Previously the Chinese leadership has warned American officials to stay out of their conflict – one it believes to be an internal one. The Chinese have made veiled threats of military attacks against the United States if it interfered.

Only 31% of Americans said they believed the United States should defend Taiwan, with almost 69% saying the U.S. should not aid Taiwan.

Last month, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for closer U.S. military ties between Taiwan and the United States. The Taiwan Relations Act already states the United States will aid in Taiwan’s defense if Taiwan is attacked.

The poll shows that Democrats, Republicans and Independents all oppose U.S. military assistance to Taiwan in a time of war – though Republicans are more inclined to intervene military than Democrats. Some 37% of Republicans believe the United States should defend Taiwan, while only 29% of Democrats agree.

The poll numbers against U.S. military action to defend other hot spots were equally compelling:

74% of Americans oppose defending Kosovo militarily. These numbers may reflect continuing apathy to President Clinton’s successful NATO-led effort to remove Serbian forces from the province. A NATO peacekeeping force currently polices Kosovo.

71% of Americans don’t believe the United States should defend Kuwait if attacked. In 1991, President Bush’s Operation Desert Storm – the largest U.S. deployment since Vietnam – successfully liberated Kuwait from Iraqi control.

72% of Americans also don’t want to use U.S. forces to defend democratic South Korea if attacked. A large U.S. deployment of 30,000 troops still remains in South Korea.

59% of Americans agree that the U.S. military should not defend Israel if attacked. Of the five hot spots surveyed, Israel received the strongest support for military help in time of war, with 41% of Americans responding the United States should support Israel.

Support for Israel was strongest among Republicans (48% agreed the United States should defend Israel), Southerners and Westerners, and among individuals describing their religious beliefs as "born again." Poll Question: "If attacked by another country, should the United States help defend militarily, even though it could cost American soldiers their lives, . . . ?"

Yes – 31%
No – 69%

Yes – 41%
No – 59%

Yes – 29%
No – 71%

South Korea
Yes – 28%
No – 72%

Yes – 26%
No – 74%

Original article