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Friday, February 20, 1998 Published at 20:47 GMT



Events: Crisis In The Gulf

American poll shows strong support for bombing of Iraq
image: [ American poll shows broad support for bombing ]
American poll shows broad support for bombing

The American people are broadly supportive of their president's stance towards Iraq, according to a major poll.

A survey in The Washington Post newspaper says 63% would support an air bombardment campaign if the Iraqi regime does not stop interfering with United Nations weapons inspectors.

At the same time, 68% of Americans say they approve of the way the president is handling the crisis and 58% endorsed the view that "Clinton has a clear policy on Iraq."

However others interviewed at greater length are sceptical about the ability of US forces to find and destroy Iraq's chemical and biological weapons facilities and many are concerned about the possibility of casualties among Iraqi civilians.

Just under half those polled (49%) said they believe "diplomacy still might work." An identical number said they believed diplomacy was useless and it was time to stop talking and take military action.


[ image: Experts believe it will take a ground invasion to topple Saddam Hussein]
Experts believe it will take a ground invasion to topple Saddam Hussein
But the public does not support the military means that experts believe are needed to topple Saddam Hussein from power.

A sizeable 56% opposed a US ground invasion with troops and 90% thought it would lead to high US casualties.

The Clinton administration's effort to confront these issues by sending out senior cabinet members including the Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, on tour has been partially successful.

She and other members of Mr Clinton's foreign policy team were greeted with jeers and barbed questions when they appeared at Ohio State University on Wednesday but the president said that event was merely a "good old-fashioned American debate."

Former President Jimmy Carter has also spoken of his opposition to launching bomb attacks against the people of Iraq, claiming it could kill innocent victims and damage the United State's reputation abroad.


[ image: There have been peace demonstrations outside the White House]
There have been peace demonstrations outside the White House
Others who oppose military action range from peace activists to right-wing Republicans - all of them convinced that bombs are not the answer, some of whom have staged small-scale demonstrations outside the White House.

So although the President can draw some comfort from the polls, it is clear he still has some work to do yet before Americans and Congress are entirely convinced of the wisdom of bombing Iraq.
 





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