Poll: Public thinks Iran greatest danger to US

Iran is the country that poses the greatest danger to the United States, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center.

The poll also found that 56 percent of people surveyed believe the United States should bring troops home from Afghanistan as soon as possible, the same number that held that view in a Pew 2011 poll.

The percentage of people who think Iran now is the greatest threat to the United States more than doubled in the past year, jumping to 28 percent from just 12 percent in January 2011, the poll's section on military and foreign policy found.


China comes in second: 22 percent thought China posed the greatest danger to the United States, followed by North Korea at 8 percent.

Iraq and Afghanistan were named the greatest danger by 7 percent and 5 percent of poll respondents, respectively.

When it comes to dealing with Iran, there’s a wide divide between Democrats and Republicans about what might be the best path forward.

Nearly three-quarters of Republican respondents who had heard something about the recent tensions in Iran said that it was more important to take a firm stand than avoid military conflict. Democrats, meanwhile, were almost evenly divided, as 45 percent thought it was more important to take a stand and 47 percent thought avoiding military conflict should take precedence.

Independents favored taking a firm stand over avoiding conflict, 52 percent to 41 percent.

Coming off the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq last month, 56 percent of respondents thought the United States needs to remove troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible, the same number that felt that way in June 2011. Still, that’s a jump from 40 percent in June 2010.

The Pew poll also asked about the reduction of the U.S. military as it plans to cut $487 billion over the next decade. Overall, the public was evenly divided, as 44 percent thought the reductions would reduce military effectiveness, while 45 percent said the military could be just as effective after the cuts.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the percentages skew when separated out by party. Sixty-five percent of Republicans think the cuts will reduce effectiveness, and 29 percent say the military will be just as effective.

Among Democrats, 57 percent believe the military will be just as effective, while 31 percent say it will not.