Belief in America’s military might falls – The San Diego Union-Tribune

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A new Gallup survey shows more concern among Americans about the strength of the military.

When asked if the U.S. is No. 1 in the world militarily, survey respondents were evenly split, with 49 percent saying yes.

This is the first time in 23 years that fewer than half of Americans responded this way. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, 56 percent said the U.S. was the world’s top military, the start of an upward trend that peaked in 2010 at 64 percent.

Since then, the number has fluctuated.

Gallup pollsters said the dip may be related to concerns about international terrorism, which most respondents view as the most significant threat to the nation, or simply because military spending is a campaign issue.

Gallup has found that 37 percent of Americans want the government to spend more on defense, while 32 percent say spending is about right. Republicans tend to want more spent on military more so than Democrats.

“The uptick in Americans’ view that the nation is spending too little on its military may partly reflect these two dynamics,” Gallup wrote, “but also follows the classic ebb and flow of attitudes about military spending in response to ups and downs in the nation’s actual spending.”

Randy Bogle, executive director of the San Diego Military Advisory Council, said that given the rise of Islamic State terrorism, it isn’t surprising that fewer Americans feel the military is the strongest in the world.

“I think it’s a legitimate concern,” Bogle said. “I think it also has made people feel less secure.”

He said that ongoing Middle East terrorism, and the complexities of U.S. involvement there, may build further popular support for more military spending

“How many San Bernadinos does it take?,” he said, referring to the shooting of 14 people at a government office there in December.

The importance of America’s military standing has not waned for Americans, Gallup has found. About two-thirds of Americans say it is important that the U.S. is No. 1 in the world militarily, a figure that has been consistent since 2000.

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Belief in America’s military might falls – The San Diego Union-Tribune