Foreign Policy

Reason-Rupe: Support for Military Intervention in Iran Drops When Iraq War Considered


The latest Reason-Rupe poll finds that nearly half of Americans favor the United States attacking Iran to destroy or delay its nuclear program, if Iran were close to being able to produce a nuclear weapon. Under these conditions, 45 percent oppose military intervention, and intensity is split with 30 percent strongly supporting intervention and 30 percent strongly opposing it.

However, this support quickly recedes when potential military intervention is compared to the war in Iraq. Instead, 56 percent of respondents oppose attacking Iraq if it "would start a war that is similar in length and costs to the war in Iraq." Intensity is on the side of those who oppose intervention with 42 percent who strongly oppose compared to 20 percent who strongly favor.

These data demonstrate that although Americans are concerned about Iran having nuclear capabilities, there are limits to what Americans are willing to pay to stop Iran, especially when Iran's nuclear capabilities are not fully known. 

Full poll results found here.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted March 10th-20th of both mobile and landline phones, 1200 adults, margin of error +/- 3 percent. Columns may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding. Full methodology can be found here

Emily Ekins is the director of polling for Reason Foundation where she leads the Reason-Rupe public opinion research project, launched in 2011. Follow her on Twitter @emilyekins.

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  1. It’s kind of amazing that the only category that grows when war with Iran is compared to the war with Iraq is the strongly oppose category. What the fuck do people think is going to happen? “Oh this time we might be facing a stronger and more organized enemy, but I’m sure it will be mush easier.”

  2. What do people think about attacking Iran when the surveyors (that can’t be the right spelling, can it?) point out that squashing Iraq created a power vacuum in the middle east?


    That’s the headline on Drudge. I don’t know if an out-of-the-closet Rick Santorum can continue running for president as a SoCon. He should drop out.

    1. I bet he went down looking. He always was a sucker for the screwball.

    2. I wonder what they offered him to drop out. Health and Human Services? Ambassador to the Vatican?

      1. Czarina of Night Clubs, Fetish Shops and Fabulousness.

      2. Salty ham tears czar.

      3. Whatever it was I’m glad he’s out. Not that I’m a romney fan but I cannot stand santorum.

      4. He just didn’t want to go through the ignominity of losing in his home state.

  4. This is just me whining, but what the fuck is wrong with people? How can you possibly be supportive of more war? Is enough enough yet? Jesus Fucking Wept.

    1. Like the most monstrous of ticks, there will never be enough blood to sate them.

      1. I am now going to refer to warmongers as ticks, so I can say that to them when they ask me what I mean by that. Thanks for that.

        1. Too many “thats”.

    2. I guess war boners are better than sex boners.

      1. They must not be able to get the latter.

        1. Who needs Viagra when you have bloodthirstiness?

          1. Blood is all the lube some of them need.

            1. Well, it is a good lubricant.

              1. Ask Roman Polanski.

                Hey-yo! Someone call Ed McMahon.

    3. I don’t get it either. I don’t understand why in the hell were even discussing starting another war.

      1. Also, what is with the “don’t knows?” at 7%? Do you want another war or don’t you? It is a really simple question.

        1. “Er, duh, what’s ‘war’ mean? Like, uh, guns and stuff? Durr. I have a landline.”

        2. It is anything but a simple question. I am a don’t know. Whether you want war or not depends completely upon your assessment of the Iranians and their intentions, something that I and most other people don’t have enough information to do.

          So it is not a simple question unless you think that we should just bomb anyone for any reason or that it is American’s job to die in the name of peace.

          1. It’s an If-Then proposition:

            IF Iran is close to getting a nuclear weapon, THEN would you favor war?

            That’s it John. It is very simple.

            1. It is still not simple. Just because they have nukes doesn’t mean that war is justified. Again, it depends on your assessment of Iranian intentions. I couldn’t care less that they have nukes if they have no plan to use them or to make trouble in the world. But how do I know that?

              1. The intentions are already embedded in the question. Iran is getting nuclear weapons; so is the rest of the world. We can waste lives and treasure trying to re-cork that genie, or we can deal with reality.

                1. The intentions are in no way embedded in the question. And there is nothing to say they are getting nukes no matter what anymore than you can say for sure that they mean to use them or don’t mean to use them.

                  All of that is just a fantasy you tell yourself to keep from having to actually think about the problem. You don’t even know what reality is let alone inhabit it.

              2. Again, it depends on your assessment of Iranian intentions.

                You can never KNOW the intentions of another. Which is PRECISELY why preemptive war is ALWAYS immoral.

                They use their nukes on a US city…have a nut…glass parking lot. Until they do, we don’t have a leg to stand on.

                1. That is great for you. But the several hundred thousand people who would die in such an attack don’t view it that way. No country is obligated to sit on its ass and wait for the other guy to come kill him. If Iran is so afraid of preemptive war, they maybe ought to stop fucking with their enemies.

                  And even if they did nuke a city, I would give a month before the peacenik Libertarians on here were whining about how horrible our response was.

                  1. No one is obligated to sit on his ass and wait for the other guy to come kill him. That’s why we should ban guns.

                  2. So by the same logic…if I suspect someone has a gun, and I believe he might use it to murder someone, I have the right to shoot him before he does.

                    Dude, your position is morally bankrupt.

                    1. That was for John…sorry.

                  3. And what about the several hundred thousand that would die when we pre-emptively attack another country without knowing their intentions? We become the bad guy on the chance that they might be a bad guy? Like FdA said… immoral.

            2. And how do I know a war would even stop them from getting nukes? I don’t.

            3. Lets talk false dichotomies

              Randian|4.10.12 @ 2:10PM|#

              This is just me whining, but what the fuck is wrong with people? How can you possibly be supportive of more war? Is enough enough yet? Jesus Fucking Wept.

              You got a lot of nerve to accuse me of false dichotomies after you post that pile of stupid. How could someone possibly support more war?

              Well, maybe they view the situation differently than you do. But no it can’t be that. They must just like war and want to kill people.

    4. Go ask the Iranians. Why can’t they just not build nukes and end the whole thing? Or maybe they really don’t give a shit whether you want war or not. Ever think of that?

      1. Oh look here comes a Tick right now.

        1. Sorry the world doesn’t fit to your fantasies. Maybe the Iranians are wonderful peaceful people who are either not building the bomb or if they do would never use it. I hope that is the case. But I don’t know.

          Maybe they are. Or maybe the country is run by a bunch of warlike lunatics who mean us and everyone else in the world harm. Isn’t that at least possible? That maybe just maybe they mean all of the crazy things that they say?

          You act like the question is “should we declare war on Canada”.

          1. John is either a warmongerer lunatic or a dishonest water-carrier.

            Aren’t false dichotomies fun?

            1. Sure make a flippant statement when confronted with facts you don’t like. If it is possible that the Iranians mean what they say, then it is not so stupid to stop them from getting nukes is it?

              You are the one above who is so convinced it is a simple question, not me. There is nothing simple about it. It is only simple if you live in a fantasy world where no one other than the United States could ever mean anyone any harm.

              1. This Week in Putting Words in Other People’s Mouths:

                It is only simple if you live in a fantasy world where no one other than the United States could ever mean anyone any harm.

                1. If the shoe fits wear it. The only way it is a simple question is if you think you know for sure the Iranians are lunatics bent on nuking the world or know for sure they are peaceful and mean no harm.

                  Since you most certainly don’t believe the former, it must be the latter.

                  1. Like Francisco said, you can never know what someone’s intentions are. That is why the proper war standard is whether X action places this nation in imminent danger. Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon in no way satisfies that criteria. You can bend and twist and try to say “but if Iran does this AND then that AND THEN this other thing, then we would be in danger”, but the “if-then” question says “if Iran gets close, then would you support war?” And a depressing number of people, without, as you say, knowing what Iran’s intentions are, says “yes”.

                    “Don’t know” is not acceptable because you will never fully know someone’s intentions. So, knowing what you know now, with this additional criteria, would you support war? That’s the question.

                    1. At this moment no. But that is a completely uninformed opinion on my part. I don’t have access to the intelligence. I don’t know what the President knows. So my opinion and your opinion neither one are worth shit.

                    2. I don’t know what the President knows.

                      Yes, actually, you pretty much do. There may be high-level geopolitical issues that color the larger problem slightly, but for the most part, you have the necessary facts to form an informed opinion.

                      And I would laugh if you of all people came on here and said “oh hey Obama said he knows somethin’ so war is okey-dokey with me”

                    3. “Intelligence” isn’t factual. Intell, is just some analyst’s best guess based on limited information. I’ve read plenty of classified reports in a former life. They’d present the facts and then fill in the blanks to draw a conclusion. You’d sit there and say to yourself, yes, that’s one possible conclusion and I can come up with 10 others.

                      Going to war, where you kill thousands and tie up a nations capitol for years based upon intelligence data is a fools errand.

      2. “Why can’t they just not build nukes and end the whole thing?”

        Because they looked at Afghanistan (filled with Islamic radicals, the government allegedly provided safe harbor to terrorist mastermind, has no nukes) which got the full Occupy Kabul treatment; and they look at Pakistan (filled with Islamic radicals, the government almost certainly provided safe harbor to terrorist mastermind, has nukes) which got the kid gloves, when it wasn’t treated as a strategic partner. And something on that list jumps out at them.

  5. “Now let’s pretend you’re not a moron. Answer again.”

    1. Those are my favorite Reason-Rupe polls.

  6. I don’t understand how most people don’t see this Iran situation as a replay of the Iraq war:
    – Potential WMDs
    – Authoritarian regime
    – Axis of evil
    – Politicians dueling to see who is the most hawkish
    – Neo-cons trying to scare the hell out of everyone
    – Legacy media not being nearly skeptical enough

    It’s the same script.

    1. So what? How does the fact that they were wrong about Iraq necessarily mean they are wrong about Iran?

      So because Iraq didn’t have a WMD program (a highly debatable assumption but I one I will grant for the sake of argument)means that now and forever every other country accused of having one also doesn’t have one?

      One situation has nothing to do with the other. What is actually happening with Iran? That is the only question that matters.

      1. One situation has nothing to do with the other.

        So you’re saying that these two situations, which have much in common that I already listed and much more that could be listed have nothing to do with each other? I disagree.

        My point in bringing up the similarities is that I would hope the US government, public and media would learn from the mistakes of such a recent and similar situation. It appears to me that we have not learned much, because we are proceeding in much the same way we did a decade ago.

    2. BOHICA

    3. – Authoritarian regime
      – Axis of evil

      Now……are you referring to Bush/Cheney (then) and Obama (now)?

    4. Your comment makes me recall a saying about history and being doomed to repeat it or something like that.

      But no, there is absolutely nothing at all that’s similar to these very similar-appearing situations.

  7. The question should have been “Given that US intelligence was so spectacularly wrong about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, would you favor going to war with Iran based on US intelligence reports that they were close to producing nuclear weapons?”

    1. Agreed. And that is how people answered it, hence the strong objections noted in the 2nd table.

  8. “It’s not a simple question, so let’s blow shit up.”

  9. Support for Ekins Posts Drops When Alt-Text Considered

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