Magazine article The American Prospect

War Resisters: The Numbers Are in and the "Nays" Are Growing. (below the Beltway)

Magazine article The American Prospect

War Resisters: The Numbers Are in and the "Nays" Are Growing. (below the Beltway)

Article excerpt

REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES are beating the war drums just as support for invading Iraq is dissipating. Whereas a Gallup Poll last November revealed 74 percent in favor of a ground invasion of Iraq and 20 percent opposed, this August the percentage of those in favor plummeted to 53, with 41 percent opposed--roughly the same margin that existed before September 11.

Moreover, the profile of those who favor war versus those who oppose it increasingly resembles the electoral breakdown of the mid-1990s. The opponents are disproportionately women, minorities, senior citizens, the college-educated and residents of the Northeast, Midwest and Far West. The administration's core supporters are rural, white, male, southern Republicans without a college diploma. That's not a good recipe for building a national consensus and may not help the Republicans in November. Here, based on materials specially provided by polling organizations, is a rundown of who is opposing and who is supporting the administration's rush to war in Iraq.

Women. Women have historically been less supportive than men of using war as a means of resolving international conflicts. More women than men wanted to pull out of the Korean and Vietnam wars, and, in January 1991, women were far less supportive than men of going to war in the Persian Gulf. After September n, according to Washington Post polls, an overwhelming majority of both men and women backed a military response to the attacks, but only 55 percent of women, compared with 76 percent of men backed a military response "if 1,000 American troops would be killed."

In this August's Gallup Poll, women backed the use of ground troops against Iraq by only 48 percent to 45 percent, while men were in favor by 57 percent to 37 percent. Women's opposition stems not only from a fear of casualties but also from dissatisfaction with the administration's unilateral strategy. In the Gallup Poll, women placed more importance than men on whether "at least some Western allies" support the administration's action. Only 12 percent thought that the United States should send troops even without the backing of any allies.

Minorities. In the August Gallup Poll, minorities opposed an invasion--blacks by 53 percent to 43 percent and other nonwhites by 48 percent to 45 percent--while whites backed going to war by 57 percent to 37 percent. Minorities have been disproportionately opposed to war during the last four decades, regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans were in office, but their opposition hasn't stemmed primarily from a fear of casualties. In a Pew Research Center poll from January 2002, the margin of difference between white and black support for taking military action against Iraq did not change when the poll raised the possibility of "thousands of casualties," whereas the margin difference between men and women doubled.

Minorities appear to assign less urgency to military intervention, whether in Kosovo in 1999 or in Iraq this year. It may be skepticism about whether countries such as Serbia and Iraq really threaten the United States. Polls show blacks more doubtful than whites about links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Minorities' views of war may be shaped not only by a distrust of Bush administration priorities but by a broader perception that war--and military spending--are a diversion from domestic social concerns. In a pre-September 11 Washington Postpoll on military spending, whites approved of the way the Bush administration was handling defense and the military budget by 54 percent to 31 percent, while blacks disapproved by 59 percent to 34 percent.

Minorities are also more supportive of the United Nations and wary of unilateral American action. In a poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, 43 percent of minorities "strongly agreed" that the United States should cooperate with the United Nations, compared with 31. …

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