War with Iraq: politicians split, public united

The world’s political leaders may be divided over the Iraq crisis, but public opinion across the European continent appears to be firmly opposed to a US-led war to disarm Iraq, recent poll findings reveal.

Background

In an open defiance of what has been popularly referred to as the "Dubya doctrine" (summarily describing the US' drive to clamp down on Iraq at whatever cost), people across the globe are expected to stage anti-war demonstrations on 15 February.

In most of the EU's 15 Member States, there appears to be a marked majority opposed to launching military action without a further UN resolution, and even that would be unconvincing for many. Meanwhile, the American public seems increasingly ready and willing to go to war, although people across the Atlantic are also increasingly wary of doing so alone, without a "coalition of the willing". Throughout the US, support for war is highly conditional, and this "yes... but" attitude seems to prevail in Britain as well.

Anti-war sentiments are exceptionally strong in Germany (84 per cent of Germans oppose military action against Iraq), Italy (68 per cent oppose any war), Spain (70 per cent believe Iraq is not enough of a threat for war) and Portugal (65 per cent see no reason to attack Iraq). In Eastern Europe, where practically all the governments have lined up behind the US, the public's opposition to war is likewise manifest: 67 per cent of the Czechs, 57 per cent of the Slovaks, 90 per cent of the Slovenes, 67 per cent of the Croats and around 80 per cent of the Hungarians oppose military action against Iraq. Meanwhile, public opinion in NATO Europe appears to be turning against the US. In certain EU Member States, the US appears to be catching up with Iraq as a perceived threat to world peace.

While Washington summarily describes the division as a token of the split of Europe into "old" and "new" parts, arguing that the three European governments throwing obstacles in the US' paths are "isolated", some 80 per cent of the public stand behind the dissident governments, and the pro-German-France-Belgian line is supported by over 70 per cent of the public in Eastern Europe.

 

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