WASHINGTON – A majority of Marylanders favor military action against Iraq if Saddam Hussein does not respond to U.N. demands, but they are divided on the question of unilateral U.S. action, according to a new poll.
A poll released this week by Gonzales/Arscott Research & Communications showed that 65 percent of those polled in Maryland last week said that the United States would be justified in using force if Hussein disregards international efforts.
The number fell to 45 percent, however, when people were asked if the United States should go it alone should the United Nations fail to act.
The Maryland survey of 823 registered voters, taken from Sept. 12-15, paralleled results of a national Gallup poll that was conducted Sept. 13-15.
The Gallup poll said 61 percent of the 803 Americans it surveyed supported military action should Iraq fail to meet diplomatic deadlines for weapons inspections. But only 37 percent said they would back U.S. military action in defiance of the United Nations.
The Gallup poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, while the Maryland survey had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.
“Americans seems to be hanging together pretty good,” said pollster Carol Arscott, referring to the results of the two polls.
Both polls were conducted before Iraq said it would allow UN weapons inspectors back in, a development that Arscott said would have altered the questions, if not the responses, to the polls.
Marjorie Ramphal, of Montgomery County Peace Action, said she doubts that a majority of Marylanders favor a war in Iraq. But with numbers showing that the state is divided over the issue of unilateral action, she said, “Our Congress people need to act.”
Grantsville barber Michael Swauger agreed, but he would like to see a different type of action than Ramphal.
Swauger said he thinks the majority of Marylanders are right to support possible U.S. military action in Iraq, and that he would support unilateral action.
“I just think that we should act before they act,” Swauger said. “We’re tired of playing games with Saddam Hussein.”
Members of Maryland’s congressional delegation were reluctant to comment Thursday on the polls.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, said through a spokeswoman Thursday that military action “may be necessary if Saddam Hussein does not allow weapons inspectors into Iraq and does not comply with other requirements.”
In a prepared statement on the issue last week, however, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, said last week that unilateral military action “could well result in the very outcomes we are trying to prevent: the use of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq, regional war, diminished capability to conduct the war on terror, and damage to our economy.”
The Gonzales/Arscott poll found that 65 percent of Marylanders supported action should Iraq flout diplomatic efforts, with 35 percent opposing and 10 percent undecided.
Marylanders were just about evenly divided on the question of the United States going it alone. While 47 percent were against unilateral action, 45 supported and 8 percent did not respond.
In the Gallup poll, 61 percent supported military action if Iraq does not respond to diplomacy and 35 percent opposed it. But on the question of U.S. action, with or without U.N. support, only 37 percent supported it and 46 percent opposed it.