TIDBITS ABOUT THE WAR….I was poking around in the Washington Post poll vault this afternoon, and while I didn’t find what I was looking for, I did run across a few recent poll questions that I thought were interesting for one reason or another. Here they are:

Question 12. Have the antiwar demonstrations in the United States and other countries made you more likely to (oppose) the war, more likely to (support) the war, or haven’t they changed your opinion of the war one way or another?

   Oppose  Support  No change  No opinion
3/23/03  7   20   71    2

So for what it’s worth, it looks like the demonstrations were actually counterproductive. I don’t suppose that means they shouldn’t have taken place, but it’s too bad there wasn’t a better way to appeal to all those centrists who were uncertain about the war in order to gain support for a more patient, multinational effort.

Question 13. Which better expresses your own opinion – People have a right to demonstrate peacefully against the war and it’s a sign of a healthy democracy when they do so; OR, in wartime it’s better for the country to appear united, so opponents of the war should not hold antiwar demonstrations?

    Right to  Should not   No
   demonstrate  demonstrate  opinion
3/23/03   60    37   3

Question 14. (IF SHOULD NOT DEMONSTRATE) Do you think antiwar demonstrations should or should not be permitted as long as the United States is at war with Iraq?

   Should be  Should not be  No
   permitted  permitted  opinion
3/23/03   53    45    3

If you put these two questions together, it means that 16% of Americans think that anti-war demonstrations should have been illegal while troops were in the field. Crikey.

Question 17. Who do you think should take the leading role in rebuilding Iraq and helping its people set up a new government there after the war – the United States or the United Nations?

   United  United  Neither  Both   No 
   States  Nations  (vol.)  (vol.)  opinion
3/27/03  31   61   3   3   2

That’s interesting. Even given George Bush’s wartime popularity and the generally dim view Americans have of the United Nations, nearly two-thirds still think the UN should lead the rebuilding effort, not the United States.

Question 11. Do you think the United States will be able to justify this war ONLY if it finds weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical or biological weapons, in Iraq; or do you think the United States will be able to justify this war for other reasons, even if it does NOT find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

   Justify only  Justify even  Neither/No   No
   if find WMD  if no WMD  justification  opinion
4/3/03   22    69    6    3
3/20/03   35    53    7    6

Wow. Only about a third of Americans ever cared about the WMD argument in the first place, and in the space of only two weeks that percentage dropped by 13 points ? for no apparent reason except that we weren’t finding any.

I haven’t seen a poll that asked this question, but I wonder what most Americans considered the main reason for going to war with Iraq? If it wasn’t WMDs, what was it? And if it was really just general revulsion with Saddam Hussein’s regime, then getting the public whipped up for another campaign against Iran or Syria or whoever might be alarmingly easy, mightn’t it?