CBS Poll: Public Backs Iraq Bombing

More than three out of four Americans favor bombing targets in Iraq to ensure that Iraq is not developing weapons of mass destruction, and a majority would even favor bombing without support from allies like France and Russia.

But only 35 percent of the public is ready for immediate action. A majority would prefer to have the U.S. wait for more diplomatic efforts.

However, while they would like to wait for diplomatic efforts, most Americans do not expect diplomacy to work. By nearly three to one, Americans think that military action will be taken against Iraq.

The President gets high marks both for his efforts and his explanation.

  • 69 percent approve of the way Bill Clinton is handling the situation with Iraq.
  • 70 percent say he has explained the situation well enough so they understand why the U.S. might launch air strikes against Iraq.

Americans also, for the most part, accept the goals stated by the President. By 56 percent to 32 percent, they say that getting Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors is worth the cost of a military mission, including the potential loss of American lives.

The public is divided on whether or not bombing alone will force Iraq to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. 41 percent think it will, but 43 percent think ground troops will eventually be necessary. But having Iraq comply with U.N. inspections is not necessarily all the public would like to see happen in Iraq. 62 percent say they would want the U.S. to continue fighting until Saddam Hussein is removed from power.

Return to Showdown in the Gulf

Unlike public reaction to the recent allegations about the President's sexual behavior, opinion about Iraq and Bill Clinton's handling of the situation there is not partisan. Republicans and Democrats both support U.S. action in Iraq as well as approve the President's handling of the situation there.

This poll was conducted among a nation-wide random sample of 484 adults, interviewed by telephone February 17, 1998. They had first been interviewed on February 8. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus four percentage points for results based on the entire sample; the error on individual change is much smaller.

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