Citizens want U.S. to wait, poll shows

November 16, 1990|By Los Angeles Times

As the U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf accelerates, Americans are growing increasingly apprehensive about the prospect of war and want both Congress and the United Nations to approve any offensive military action, according to a poll by the Los Angeles Times.

Though Americans continue to support the deployment of troops to the region, a majority of those surveyed disapproved of President Bush's recent decision to nearly double the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia.

And a larger majority agreed that the United States should continue to rely on economic sanctions to force Iraq from Kuwait and not resort to war, "no matter how long it takes."

Asked directly whether the United States should go to war against Iraq, Americans said no, by 53 percent to 38 percent. A narrow majority of men supported going to war, but women rejected conflict by a ratio of more than 2-to-1.

These findings suggest the public is drawing its own line in the sand between deterring further aggression by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and risking U.S. lives in an attack to dislodge Iraq's forces from Kuwait.

By a ratio of 3-to-1, the public said Mr. Bush should call Congress back to Washington to debate gulf policy, though Mr. Bush has resisted pressure from legislative leaders to convene such a special session. By the same majority, those polled said Mr. Bush should seek a declaration of war from Congress before attacking Iraq. Even Republicans, by more than 60 percent, supported calling a special session of Congress to give legislative approval.

More strikingly, more than 80 percent of those surveyed said the president should seek approval from the U.N. Security Council before going to war. And a majority said the United States should fight only if other nations were standing beside the Americans.

The poll was taken Nov. 14 and surveyed 1,031 respondents across the nation; it has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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