Political News

Americans have long hoped for a peaceful denuclearization of North Korea

Posted June 12, 2018 1:34 p.m. EDT

— There was nearly ubiquitous (77% in CNN's May poll) American support for President Donald Trump's decision to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

That's a solid turnaround for him since a CNN poll last November showed 35% approval of Trump's handling of North Korea.

The summit between the two leaders occurred on Monday evening US time and Tuesday in Singapore, ending with Trump and Kim vowing to "denuke" North Korea. According to current reports, it ended amicably with the two shaking hands and smiling, though details of their plan still need to be hashed out.

American adults have supported working toward denuclearization of North Korea using diplomacy and peaceful efforts for many years.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, in partnership with AP-GfK, conducts a regular survey on foreign policy that includes a series of questions about what actions Americans support or oppose the US taking to pressure North Korea to stop building its nuclear weapons program. Every time the survey has been conducted, the greatest support has been for "continue diplomatic efforts to get North Korea to suspend its nuclear program." There is far greater support for diplomacy than for other strategies such as airstrikes, sending in troops to take control and even cyber attacks.

In 2012, the AP-GfK poll showed 82% in support for continuing diplomatic efforts, increasing to 85% in 2014. 2015 numbers went down slightly, to 75%, but it was still the most widely supported strategy, just above "impose tighter economic sanctions on North Korea," at 70% support. The most recent reported number, in 2016, had support for diplomatic efforts at 81%.

While Trump's approval numbers on specific topics (the economy, trade, immigration, etc.) are highly divided by partisan identification, North Korea is a subject where that is less true. People want him to work to make peace with the nation, a sentiment that has held for presidents since 2012. Perhaps Trump wasn't the one people expected to be making peace, but Americans think this is the best strategy to take.