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Who's For & Against A War With Iraq

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 764 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... WAR RESISTERS By John B. Judis The American Prospect
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 9, 2002
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      NHNE News List
      Current Members: 764
      Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message.


      By John B. Judis
      The American Prospect
      Issue Date: 10.7.02


      Republican candidates are beating the war drums just as support for invading
      Iraq is dissipating. Whereas a Gallup Poll last November revealed 74 percent
      in favor of a ground invasion of Iraq and 20 percent opposed, this August
      the percentage of those in favor plummeted to 53, with 41 percent opposed --
      roughly the same margin that existed before September 11.

      Moreover, the profile of those who favor war versus those who oppose it
      increasingly resembles the electoral breakdown of the mid-1990s. The
      opponents are disproportionately women, minorities, senior citizens, the
      college-educated and residents of the Northeast, Midwest and Far West. The
      administration's core supporters are rural, white, male, southern
      Republicans without a college diploma. That's not a good recipe for building
      a national consensus and may not help the Republicans in November. Here,
      based on materials specially provided by polling organizations, is a rundown
      of who is opposing and who is supporting the administration's rush to war in

      Women. Women have historically been less supportive than men of using war as
      a means of resolving international conflicts. More women than men wanted to
      pull out of the Korean and Vietnam wars, and, in January 1991, women were
      far less supportive than men of going to war in the Persian Gulf. After
      September 11, according to Washington Post polls, an overwhelming majority
      of both men and women backed a military response to the attacks, but only 55
      percent of women, compared with 76 percent of men backed a military response
      "if 1,000 American troops would be killed."

      In this August's Gallup Poll, women backed the use of ground troops against
      Iraq by only 48 percent to 45 percent, while men were in favor by 57 percent
      to 37 percent. Women's opposition stems not only from a fear of casualties
      but also from dissatisfaction with the administration's unilateral strategy.
      In the Gallup Poll, women placed more importance than men on whether "at
      least some Western allies" support the administration's action. Only 12
      percent thought that the United States should send troops even without the
      backing of any allies.

      Minorities. In the August Gallup Poll, minorities opposed an invasion --
      blacks by 53 percent to 43 percent and other nonwhites by 48 percent to 45
      percent -- while whites backed going to war by 57 percent to 37 percent.
      Minorities have been disproportionately opposed to war during the last four
      decades, regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans were in office, but
      their opposition hasn't stemmed primarily from a fear of casualties. In a
      Pew Research Center poll from January 2002, the margin of difference between
      white and black support for taking military action against Iraq did not
      change when the poll raised the possibility of "thousands of casualties,"
      whereas the margin difference between men and women doubled.

      Minorities appear to assign less urgency to military intervention, whether
      in Kosovo in 1999 or in Iraq this year. It may be skepticism about whether
      countries such as Serbia and Iraq really threaten the United States. Polls
      show blacks more doubtful than whites about links between Iraq and al-Qaeda.
      Minorities' views of war may be shaped not only by a distrust of Bush
      administration priorities but by a broader perception that war -- and
      military spending -- are a diversion from domestic social concerns. In a
      pre- September 11 Washington Post poll on military spending, whites approved
      of the way the Bush administration was handling defense and the military
      budget by 54 percent to 31 percent, while blacks disapproved by 59 percent
      to 34 percent. Minorities are also more supportive of the United Nations and
      wary of unilateral American action. In a poll conducted by the Program on
      International Policy Attitudes, 43 percent of minorities "strongly agreed"
      that the United States should cooperate with the United Nations, compared
      with 31.6 percent of whites.

      Senior citizens. Two other groups that have not historically been antiwar
      have joined the opposition to an invasion of Iraq. Senior citizens were not
      disproportionately against intervention in Kosovo or in Afghanistan, but
      according to August's Gallup Poll, those over 65 years of age oppose sending
      ground troops to Iraq by 49 percent to 38 percent. That may reflect
      skepticism among senior citizens about this administration's foreign policy.
      In a pre-September 11 Washington Post poll, senior citizens (age 61 and
      over) disapproved by 52 percent to 40 percent of the Bush administration's
      handling of foreign affairs, while middle-aged respondents (age 45 to 60)
      approved by 57 percent to 38 percent. Senior citizens may also be more
      skeptical about administration arguments that Saddam Hussein constitutes a
      threat to American interests. In this August's Gallup Poll, only 34 percent
      of senior citizens (in contrast with 47 percent overall) believed that
      Saddam Hussein would attack the United States with nuclear weapons.

      College graduates. College graduates have sometimes been the most supportive
      of going to war. In a November 2001 Washington Post poll, 73 percent of
      college graduates, compared with 71 percent of all respondents, favored
      sending a "significant number of ground troops into Afghanistan." And in a
      Gallup Poll in June, they favored invasion by 53 percent to 44 percent. But
      in August, as the Bush administration's intentions became clearer, they
      opposed it by 47 percent to 44 percent. One factor is that college graduates
      have been more inclined than other groups to favor multilateral approaches
      to foreign policy. In a June 1999 Washington Post poll, college graduates
      backed a NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo by 54 percent to 41 percent,
      while overall it was opposed by 48 percent to 46 percent. Like senior
      citizens, they are also disproportionately skeptical of administration
      claims that Saddam Hussein might eventually use nuclear weapons against the
      United States.

      Democrats. As might be expected, self-identified Democrats, who favored
      invasion by 55 percent to 39 percent in July's Gallup Poll, now oppose it by
      52 percent to 44 percent. That probably reflects the decline in George W.
      Bush's popularity and a partisan reaction to the prospect of war. But the
      growing skepticism about invasion can't be reduced to partisanship. Between
      the Gallup Polls conducted in June and August, the backing for invasion
      among Republicans declined by 11 percent and among independents by 4
      percent. Most striking, perhaps, self-identified moderates went from
      supporting the war at 60 percent to 33 percent in June to a tepid 49 percent
      to 45 percent support in August. That suggests that Bush is losing both the
      left and the center of the electorate.

      Whites, males, Republicans and those who have not graduated from or never
      attended college. These groups generally support an invasion of Iraq. In the
      Gallup Poll, those with only a high-school education favored war by 60
      percent to 34 percent; Republicans, meanwhile, backed going to war by 67
      percent to 26 percent. In addition, southerners favored an invasion by 62
      percent to 34 percent, compared with 47 percent to 44 percent for
      midwesterners. Rural residents, for their part, favored going to war by 58
      percent to 35 percent. If you put these different proportions together, you
      get a high-school-educated white male from the rural or small-town South.
      Overall, this group strongly supports the U.S. military and its actions, and
      is skeptical toward, or even opposed to, the United Nations and multilateral
      foreign-policy initiatives.

      Readers of Walter Russell Mead's Special Providence: American Foreign Policy
      and How It Changed the World will recognize this prototype in his portrayal
      of the "Jacksonian" school of American foreign policy. It's not really a
      school, and it's not really a product of Andrew Jackson, but it is an
      important current in American foreign policy, typified by Sen. Jesse Helms
      (R-N.C.). The views of these primarily southern Jacksonians could be roughly
      contrasted with the more internationalist outlook one finds among college
      graduates and among citizens in the Northeast and Far West, as with the more
      conventionally isolationist tendencies of many midwesterners.

      In most polls, southerners and those without a college degree register the
      greatest support for military action. (White southern support, one assumes,
      must even be higher.) In the Washington Post's pre-9-11 poll, southerners
      approved of Bush's defense and military policies by 58 percent to 26
      percent, compared with 53 percent to 34 percent overall. Meanwhile, those
      without a college degree approved of the president's policies by 56 percent
      to 35 percent, compared with 51 percent to 43 percent for college graduates.
      At the same time, these two groups are most leery of multilateral action.
      Southerners and those without a college degree were least supportive of the
      United States joining NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo. In the June 1999
      Washington Post poll, only 42 percent without a college education favored
      sending a NATO peacekeeping force; 54 percent of college graduates who
      responded said they favored such action. These two groups are the most
      supportive of unilateralism. In August's Gallup Poll, 24 percent of
      southerners (compared with 15 percent of midwesterners) said, "The United
      States should send troops even if none of our Western allies supports that

      This group of Americans backed Bush enthusiastically in the 2000 election
      and will loudly support his plan to go to war against Iraq. Indeed, Vice
      President Dick Cheney kicked off the administration's attempt to win support
      for a unilateral invasion at a speech in Nashville, Tenn., a few dozen miles
      from Jackson's Hermitage, before local members of the Veterans of Foreign
      Wars. But these supporters are hardly representative of the country or of
      the direction in which the country is moving. As the debate over war on Iraq
      goes forward, Bush will need to find allies among those groups that have
      increasingly turned away from him. Meanwhile, Democrats, who have privately
      complained about the administration's plans for war but have remained silent
      publicly for fear of alienating voters, should take heart from the growing
      opposition. If the Democrats and Republicans who oppose the administration's
      strategy for a preemptive unilateral strike against Iraq want to make their
      case, they are going to find an increasingly receptive public.


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