While a majority of Americans support President Bush’s stated intention to use U.S. military action to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power, they become more skeptical as costs -- either in lives lost or from lengthy fighting -- increase.
A FOX News national poll conducted this week by the research firm Opinion Dynamics found that 69 percent of Americans support military action to remove Hussein while 22 percent oppose it.
These numbers are down slightly from results of a Fox News poll taken shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when 77 percent supported military action to bring down the Iraqi leader (November 2001).
Support for taking action softens when qualifiers are placed on the use of U.S. troops, such as the loss of a significant number of soldiers' lives and prolonged war. When these qualifiers are added, support for military action drops to about half of the public.
Earlier this week it was reported that members of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff are now backing a U.S.-led mission to get rid of Hussein.
"Americans have gotten used to easy and relatively painless victories in the Desert Storm, the Balkans, and most recently Afghanistan," said Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "The administration has to be concerned that in the event of a bloody or costly invasion, public support might erode quickly. The numbers already show signs of quick drop-off in support as we raise issues."
A slim majority (53 percent) is concerned that congressional hearings about a possible U.S. attack would give away secrets, while another 37 percent think Congress should hold hearings on the matter.
Polling was conducted by telephone August 6-7, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.
1. Which country do you think is a stronger supporter of terrorism and poses the greater immediate danger to the United States: Iran or Iraq?
2. Do you support or oppose U.S. military action to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein?
* Wording: " . . .action against Iraq and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein"
3. Would you support or oppose the military action even if it means thousands of American soldiers' lives would be lost?
4. Would you support or oppose the military action even if it means a war lasting up to five years?
5. Do you think Congress should have hearings to discuss the U.S. taking military action against Iraq, or would congressional hearings give away too much information?