- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2003

President Bush has rallied public support for disarming Iraq by force as Americans grow increasingly frustrated with an equivocating United Nations, national polls show.
Fifty-eight percent of Americans said the United Nations was doing a "poor" job of handling the Iraq crisis, up 10 points from last month, said a CBS-New York Times poll taken after Mr. Bush made his case Thursday in a nationally televised news conference.
With the United Nations continuing to debate enforcement of its resolution demanding that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein disarm or face "serious consequences," six in 10 Americans responding to an ABC News poll say U.N. authorization to use force is not necessary. That number rises to 71 percent if "some" U.S. allies participate in military action.
"It's already plain to see that the American people are growing increasingly impatient with the United Nations on this issue," Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said yesterday. "I think that's an accurate summary of what the American people think now.
"I think there is a large sense in the country that the United Nations Security Council is not the first institution to be looked to to maintain peace, given the way that they did not do it in Rwanda, did not do it in Kosovo. And we'll see if they're able to enforce their resolutions here with Iraq and disarmament," Mr. Fleischer said.
For the United Nations to be an effective force, Mr. Fleischer said, it needs "the support and the good will of the American people based on merit and based on action."
In 1994, the United Nations pulled its peacekeeping force out of Rwanda just before a tribal dispute turned into a genocide that left more than 1 million dead. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization went to war in 1999 with Yugoslavia over ethnic cleansing in Kosovo without explicit U.N. Security Council authorization because Russia and China refused to back intervention.
France and Russia have threatened to use their veto power to kill a new U.N. Security Council resolution stating that Saddam has missed his "final opportunity" to disarm. Some U.N. members are demanding another deadline extension of up to 45 days for Saddam to comply.
Support for going to war to disarm Saddam has grown dramatically among Americans. The ABC News poll said 59 percent of respondents supported war, up from 40 percent in late February. The CBS-New York Times survey found support for war at 66 percent, up from 47 percent in the first week of March.
A survey by independent pollster John Zogby found 57 percent favoring a war, up from 49 percent in late January.
The polls indicate that Americans are moving away from the conviction that the United Nations is playing a relevant role in the Iraq crisis.
The CBS-New York Times poll finds that four in 10 Americans believe U.N. approval is necessary before the United States leads a coalition to disarm Saddam by force. In a poll taken days before Mr. Bush made his case during a prime-time appearance, six in 10 said they opposed action without U.N. support.
More than half, 55 percent, said they would support military action even if the United Nations did not support a resolution authorizing an invasion, the poll showed. A week earlier, 36 percent approved of action without a U.N. blessing.
"There's a sense of 'C'mon, let's just get on with it,'" Mr. Zogby said. His latest survey, conducted just before Mr. Bush's news conference, found that 49 percent of Americans supported intervention without U.N. support. That was up 12 points from Mr. Zogby's Jan. 24-26 poll.
"For some, there is frustration with the U.N. The U.N. used to have a 70 percent favorable rating. Now, it's at 52 percent. That shows me that there is some disenchantment with the U.N. But I also think that many Americans are saying, 'Iraq, al Qaeda, North Korea, the economy let's get some movement here and let's not wait anymore,'" he said.
The pollster also said the Bush administration, which in recent days has increased efforts to make its case against Saddam, gets some credit for moving American sentiment.
Although the CBS-New York Times showed a majority 52 percent believed that U.N. inspectors should be given more time to search for evidence of banned nuclear, biological or chemical weapons in Iraq, the percentage had dropped 10 points from a poll two weeks ago.
The survey also finds that 44 percent of Americans think the United States should take military action soon, up from 35 percent a week ago. Half now see Iraq as an immediate threat that requires military action now, compared with 45 percent last week.
In all polls, Mr. Bush continued to enjoy approval ratings in the mid- to high-50s. That level has held for several months after a yearlong descent from post-September 11 highs.

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