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Poll shows widespread, rising support for war

By Times wire services
Published April 9, 2003

As U.S. forces continue the battle of Baghdad, support for the war in Iraq continues to rise. The latest Washington Post-ABC News Poll shows that 77 percent of Americans say they support the decision to go to war, a figure that has increased as news of the war turned positive. Just 16 percent say they oppose having gone to war.

The support is not evenly distributed, however. More men support going to war than do women; Southerners are more likely to say they support the war than are Westerners. The more the population is broken down by category - gender, ideology, party, income or age - the more those differences are apparent.

Roughly half or more of every demographic group measured now supports the war. Opposition rises above one-third among only two groups: African-Americans and liberal Democrats.

Republicans almost universally support the decision to go to war. Democrats are more divided, although nearly two in three Democrats now say they support the war. Whites are far more supportive than are blacks.

Republican men and Republican women support the war in almost equal numbers, but fewer Democratic women back the operation in Iraq than do Democratic men.

Americans who say they have a close friend serving in the Persian Gulf are somewhat more supportive of the war than are those who say they have a member of their family stationed in the region.

Iraqi military death toll stays mysterious

WASHINGTON - The death toll of Iraqi soldiers is in the thousands, but precisely how many have died is anyone's guess.

The Pentagon isn't doing estimates. The International Committee of the Red Cross says hospitals in Baghdad, which are running out of drugs and anesthetics, have gotten too busy to count the wounded.

Military analysts are divided: One says more than 10,000 uniformed Iraqi soldiers will be dead at war's end. Another suggests the death total will be half that. Others won't venture a guess.

"These are extremely rubber numbers," said Dana Dillon, a senior analyst and retired Army major at the Heritage Foundation. "It's difficult to verify, especially when you're dropping bombs on people and you don't go back and count bodies."

Representative calls for "Department of Peace'

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - In an ambitious alternative rhythm to the drumbeat of war, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif, wants to see the creation of a U.S. Department of Peace.

No, really.

"Why not?" she asked. "We have a secretary of defense and a secretary of state, with military being the primary option on the table."

Peace, she said, is "another way to do business."

Lee, 56, joined Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and other members of Congress on Tuesday to re-introduce legislation calling for a cabinet-level department.

Kucinich, a presidential candidate and an outspoken critic of President Bush's policy on Iraq, introduced a similar bill in July 2001.

The proposed legislation calls for a department whose purpose would be pushing nonviolence as an "organized principle." Its role would involve promoting peace education worldwide, supporting disarmament treaties and addressing issues that may lead to violent conflict.

Humanitarian aid missions turned into violent scenes

ZUBAYR, Iraq - Humanitarian aid missions to two Iraqi towns have turned into chaotic scenes of shoving and mayhem in the past two days, hammering home the tough problems facing efforts to provide food, water and medical supplies to needy civilians in a country still riven by war.

At Zubayr on Tuesday, riotous crowds pillaged seven tractor-trailer loads of bottled water, then turned their wrath on two busloads of reporters and photographers. At Najaf Monday, hundreds were left hungry and angry at a food drop that fell well short of the need.

At Zubayr, British forces fired into the air in an effort to re-establish order. But the aid convoy fled chaotically, leaving behind one truck that was overturned in the mayhem. At Najaf, townspeople who were supposed to have welcomed the American-protected effort angrily denounced it.

Both aid missions were sponsored by Kuwait's Red Crescent Society. Many in the crowds were angry at the presence of foreign journalists who accompanied the deliveries.

Thousands plan weekend rallies to call for war's end

WASHINGTON - Thousands of protesters will rally this weekend in Washington and other cities across the globe in demonstrations calling for an end to the war in Iraq.

But just like the military campaign, which has shifted from the desert to the streets of Baghdad, the peace movement itself has entered a new phase.

The challenge: Keep the pressure on the Bush administration to stop the fighting and keep the antiwar campaign from burning itself out.

"This war was illegal, and I think we need to keep reminding people of that," said Bill Fletcher Jr., co-chairman of United for Peace and Justice, a national coalition of groups that oppose the war.

Organizers predict that this weekend's demonstrations will be the largest since the war began.

[Last modified April 18, 2003, 13:36:44]