'Britons back military action more than other Europeans'

Terror in America: Opinion
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The Independent Online

A majority of Europeans support the United States in its war on terrorism even though most hope President Bush will not resort to military action, a poll published yesterday says.

Popular support for military attacks was among the highest in Britain, with 79 per cent of those polled agreeing that the UK should take part in joint raids. The findings follow an ICM poll published on Tuesday that showed two-thirds of British people backed a military response and a Mori poll on Sunday that showed 75 per cent were in support.

British sentiments appear to be mirrored across most of Europe, according to the 30-country Gallup poll.

Eight out of 10 Danes back retaliatory attacks, as do 73 per cent of French and 70 per cent of people in Portugal. More than half of Germans also said they would support a role in a US military anti-terrorism campaign, as did 66 per cent of Italians, 66 per cent of Israelis and 58 per cent of Spaniards.

A majority of people in Greece and Austria opposed any armed intervention and in Pakistan, which spawned and financed the Taliban in Afghanistan, fewer than a third thought their country should take part in US-led attacks.

The poll will encourage President George Bush, who signed a Congressional resolution into law on Tuesday that authorises him to use military force against those responsible.

In a note of caution to any gung-ho responses from Washington, the majority of Europeans said they believed any US strike should focus exclusively on military targets. Only 12 per cent of Spaniards and 17 per cent of Germans thought America should launch a military attack on the country hosting the culprits. But in the US 54 per cent supported attacks on the country sheltering the terrorists and this was surpassed in Israel where 77 per cent favoured the option. Most favoured President Bush's demand that the Afghan authorities extradite the attackers to face trial in America rather than alternative proposals such as a trial in an independent Islamic county.

Fears that events in the past week would trigger a global economic crisis were particularly strong in the weak economies in Latin America and the Pacific Rim, the poll showed.

About 15,000 people were polled with some 500 questioned in each of the 30 countries between Friday last week and Monday.