William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SMART NATION – AT 8:57 A.M. ET:  Despite the left-wing bias of the American media, and perhaps because, in part, of information given on the internet, Americans have a realistic view of the threats facing the United States.  They are ahead of many "journalists," not an unusual situation.  From Gallup:

PRINCETON, NJ -- Eighty-three percent of Americans say the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea is a critical threat to the vital interests of the United States, placing it at the top of a list of nine potential threats, along with Iranian nuclear weapons and international terrorism.

The Feb. 7-10 poll was conducted just before North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, so Americans already saw it as a serious threat before the latest news. North Korea's continued nuclear ambitions and defiance of international efforts to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons are likely a reason Americans' basic opinions of the country are among the most negative of any that Gallup measures. Americans also frequently mention North Korea as the United States' greatest enemy, though Iran has topped the list in recent years.

After North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons and international terrorism, Americans are most likely to view Islamic fundamentalism and China's economic and military power as critical threats to U.S. vital interests. Less than half believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Indian-Pakistani conflict, and the military power of Russia pose similar threats to the United States.

This year's poll marked the first time Gallup asked about North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons specifically. In 2010 Gallup asked about the two countries' "military power," and found 61% rating each as a critical threat to the United States, second only to international terrorism. In 2004, the "spread of weapons of mass destruction to unfriendly powers" ranked second only to terrorism. Thus, Americans have previously seen North Korea and Iran, and nuclear weapons in general, as serious threats to the U.S.

COMMENT:  Examine the charts provided with the story.   If you take the label "critical threat" and "important,not critical," some 99% of Americans fit into those two categories in regard to Iran, 83% in the first category, 16% in the second.  North Korea is right behind with 97%, and international terrorism is third in the "critical threat" department.

So Americans are watching and listening, and thinking intelligently.  I wonder what Chuck Hagel thinks.

February 20,  2013