War In The Balkans: Americans want bombing pause

Opinion Polls
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The Independent Online
EIGHT IN TEN Americans think that the best strategy in Kosovo would be a bombing pause to let diplomacy work, according to an opinion poll released yesterday.

The poll, by Gallup for CNN and USA Today, shows a sharp decline in American support for the war, matched by a sudden fall in public approval of President Bill Clinton. It shows that in America, as in Europe outside Britain, there is little appetite for the war and a preference for diplomacy.

Support for the war overall has fallen to 49 per cent in the US, almost matched by those who oppose it at 47 per cent. That is a steady decline from mid-April, when 60 per cent of Americans supported the air war. The number of those opposing a ground war stands at a solid 58 per cent, slightly higher than in the last poll. But while 71 per cent of Americans oppose a permanent end to all military action, 82 per cent want a temporary end "to resolve the matter through negotiations and other means," the poll says. It is based on a sample of 1,050 people.

A majority are still "confident" of the President's ability to conduct the war, at 57 per cent, but that is down from 66 per cent in March. And the proportion who are "very confident" has sharply tailed off.

That has fed through into the President's overall approval rating, which has fallen suddenly to 53 per cent. It has only dipped below 60 per cent once since January last year, and has rarely been below 60 per cent in the past three years. The approval rating fell sharply from January this year, when support for President Clinton was rallied by the conduct of the impeachment proceedings. Then it was 73 per cent, one of the highest scores of any President in peacetime.