New Polls: Americans Say “Don’t Rush to War Against Iraq”

New York Times

January 19, 2003

8:30 a.m.

Most Americans want the United States to take more time seeking a peaceful solution in Iraq rather than moving quickly into a military confrontation, a new poll says.

By 60 percent to 35 percent, people in the Newsweek poll released Saturday they would prefer that the Bush administration allow more time to find an alternative to war.

Support for a military option would be strong, 81 percent, if the United States were to act with full allied support and the backing of the U.N. Security Council. A majority would be opposed should this country act without the support of the United Nations and had no more than one or two allies.

U.S. officials and their allies currently are discussing the appropriate timetable for military action against Iraq, which faces a U.N. demand that it abandon its weapons of mass destruction. Europeans are urging that President Bush give United Nations weapons inspectors more time.

The president’s job approval was at 56 percent in the Newsweek poll and 53 percent in a CNN-Time poll released over the weekend. His approval rate was in the 60s in both polls in November. According to the CNN-Time poll, the decline comes as a result of slightly higher disapproval among Republicans, independents and Democrats.

Half in the CNN-Time poll, 50 percent, said they approve Bush’s handling of foreign policy, while 42 percent disapprove. In July, before the administration began its public campaign about Iraq, 64 percent approved his handling of foreign policy.

People worry about the impact of the United States’ taking military action against Iraq. More than half in the Newsweek poll, 54 percent, said they expect it would cause serious divisions with allies. And more than two-thirds thought it would cause serious problems throughout the Arab countries and would cause Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to use biological or chemical weapons against Israel.

The CNN-Time poll of 1,010 adults was taken Jan. 15-16, and the Newsweek poll of 1,002 adults was taken Jan. 16-17. Both have error margins of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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