NEW YORK – According to a new FOX News poll, most Americans think it is worthwhile for the United States to participate in the United Nations, although many think the billions of dollars the country contributes to the world body could be better spent elsewhere. Over half say they were angry that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called President Bush the devil — although partisanship plays a large role in opinion even here.
The new poll shows that a majority of Americans (59 percent) thinks it is valuable for the United States to be involved in the United Nations, 28 percent say it used to be worthwhile, but isn’t anymore and a few say it was never worthwhile to participate (8 percent).
Similarly, 59 percent want the United Nations to stay based in this country — well over twice as many as would like to see it moved to another country (23 percent).
Even so, by 45 percent to 36 percent, the public thinks the amount the United States pays to support the United Nations and its programs — estimated at over $5 billion dollars for this year — is money that could be better spent on other things.
"In many ways reaction to the UN is like opinions about many other topics," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "People want many programs but are reluctant to pay for them. Indeed, actually willing to pay for-or better still-to pay taxes to pay for a program is a much stronger measure of support than simply saying you’re ‘for’ something."
A plurality believes the policies of the United Nations are anti-American (37 percent) rather than pro-American (24 percent).
When speaking at a recent United Nations General Assembly session, Venezuelan President Chavez called President Bush the devil. Over half of Americans say Chavez’s remark made them angry, including 29 percent who say "very" angry. More than four in 10 say it didn’t make them angry (41 percent)
Fully 77 percent of Republicans say the "devil" remark made them angry, including 51 percent "very" angry, while majorities of Democrats (51 percent) and independents (55 percent) say it did not make them angry at all.
"It is measure of the depth of their unhappiness with Bush that Democrats and independents are not angry about the ‘devil’ remarks," says Gorman.
Over half (53 percent) think the Chavez comment was an insult to both the president and the American people, not just an insult to President Bush (37 percent).
In general, Americans think it is inappropriate for foreign leaders to come to United States and criticize our president: 34 percent think it is okay, while a 61 percent majority disagrees.
Many people think Chavez received too much news coverage (40 percent), though an almost equal number think it was about the right amount of attention (38 percent). Only 8 percent think it received too little coverage.
It clearly was not enough coverage for some. While most Americans (61 percent) say they heard or read about the speeches the presidents of Iran and Venezuela gave at the United Nations, a third of Americans say they didn’t (34 percent).
Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 likely voters for FOX News from September 26 to September 27. The poll has a 3-point error margin.