09/06/2006 - 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, according to findings of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
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.
Similarly, in 2002 a 58% majority felt that military strikes against nations developing nuclear weapons were a very important way to reduce future terrorism. Today, just 43% express the same level of support for such action.
Yet most Americans do not believe that the ability of terrorists to launch another attack against the U.S. has been diminished. Rather, 62% say terrorists' capabilities are the same (37%) or greater (25%) than they were at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. This view has remained stable since the summer of 2002.
Read full article: Diminished Public Appetite for Military Force and Mideast Oil on Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Web site.