Americans’ confidence in the United Nations’ handling of Iraq is wishy-washy, according to a Gallup poll released Oct. 30.

The poll indicated that although Americans generally support the UN as an “international arbiter,” they have “doubts about its ability to deal with Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi situation.”

The majority of Americans support an invasion of Iraq, but most still want UN approval before Iraq is attacked. Seventy-nine percent of Americans condone an attack if the UN supports it.

Without UN support, the numbers shift dramatically. Only 37 percent of Americans are willing to go ahead with an invasion if the UN does not give its support. Fifty-eight percent oppose an attack under such conditions.

Eight in 10 Americans said they didn’t think the UN was being “tough enough” in dealing with Iraq. The poll also showed that “93% of Americans favored a U.N. deadline for Iraq, which would lead to ‘grave consequences’ should Iraq fail to submit to weapons inspections as specified in the resolution.”

Despite Americans’ call for tougher dealings with Iraq, they are divided over whether they think the UN can actually handle the situation effectively.

Thirty-two percent of Americans said they had a “great deal of confidence” in the UN. Forty percent only expressed “moderate” confidence, while 32 percent said they did not have much faith in the UN. Fifteen percent said they had no confidence at all in the UN’s ability to handle the Iraqi situation.

Even if the UN was allowed to conduct unfettered inspections in Iraq, 68 percent of Americans said the organization would not be effective “in eliminating the threat of Iraq using weapons of mass destruction against the United States.”

Most Americans (60 percent) are willing to “give diplomatic efforts more time to be effective before invading Iraq with ground troops.” But they don’t want to wait for long. Fifty-three percent said America should wait no longer than a couple of months before invading.

What if the events of Sept. 11 had never happened? Would Americans be as eager to invade Iraq?

Fifty percent said they would not support an invasion of Iraq if the attacks of Sept. 11 had never happened, while 44 percent said they would still support an invasion.

Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.

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