TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A recent survey found that over one-third of US citizens would support a preemptive attack on North Korea despite being told that it would cause more than one million civilian casualties, the Washington Post reported.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the nonprofit organization that conducted the survey, described the discovery as “disturbing” and said that the result shows that “a large hawkish minority lurks within the U.S. public.” Almost half of the respondents approved of a preemptive strike on the reclusive state, with conventional and nuclear weapons each drawing about one-third support.
Furthermore, there was no significant change in the percentage that preferred a nuclear strike when researchers told interviewees that estimates of North Korean civilian casualties would jump from 15,000 to 1.1 million. The percentage that approved of a nuclear strike did drop when casualties were projected to surpass one million, but only by a small margin.
The survey also found that there is a tendency among the U.S. public to overestimate their country's military capabilities. More than one-third of respondents believe that the U.S. can completely neutralize North Korea's nuclear counterattack capability in just a single preemptive strike, while almost three-quarters have confidence that the U.S. can intercept multiple incoming North Korean missiles at the same time - positions strongly disputed by most military experts.
Although the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday (June 30) seemingly reduced the likelihood of an armed conflict between the two nations, the survey remains an alarming reminder of the American public's "limited aversion to nuclear weapons use and a shocking willingness to support the killing of enemy civilians."
The Bulletin asserted that U.S. citizens are largely misinformed on the subject and concluded that “a renewed effort at mass public nuclear education” is urgently needed.