NEW YORK – Most Americans don't think Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will cooperate with weapons inspectors combing Baghdad and the rest of the country for traces of weapons of mass destruction, according to a poll released this week.
At the same time, the general public's confidence in how President Bush is handling Iraq is growing, the poll shows, and they favor a U.S.-led military attack if Saddam makes trouble for the inspectors.
"These findings clearly suggest that Americans will support the use of military force under certain conditions and that they are confident in President Bush’s decision-making," Harris Poll Project Manager David Krane said in a statement. "In addition, the mistrust in Saddam Hussein by the public makes it reasonable to suppose that they would not be surprised if a military attack happened. In fact, it suggests that Americans might be even more surprised if it didn't."
The Harris Poll of Harris Interacitve conducted the online survey of over 2,000 adults ages 18 and over between Nov. 22 and Dec. 2.
The survey found that 81 percent of American's don't think Saddam will fully cooperate with the U.N. weapons inspections team being led by Hans Blix and only 15 percent think it's at least somewhat likely that he will cooperate.
A majority -- 61 percent -- is either "very confident" or "somewhat confident" that Bush will make the right decision concerning the use of military forces in Iraq. Fifty-seven percent favor a U.S. led military attack if Saddam doesn't comply with rules outlined by the U.N. Security Council, including providing detailed and truthful descriptions of the past and present history of its weapons programs.
Twenty-five percent oppose military action and 19 percent say they're not sure whether to support military intervention in the situation.
But if inspectors succeed and don't find any sort of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in Saddam's palaces and elsewhere and it's proved that Saddam is telling the truth, 58 percent oppose a U.S. military-led strike against Iraq.
If Saddam does in fact have some weapons of mass destruction hidden somewhere, 73 percent of those surveyed think the dictator will have no qualms about using them "if there is no attack on Iraq, no effective weapons inspections and Saddam Hussein remains in power."