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British action in Libya unpopular

John Rentoul

libya explosion af 1845681c 300x187 British action in Libya unpopularIt is not even as well supported by the British public as the Iraq invasion, according to a ComRes/ ITV News poll out tonight. The poll shows that 53% of people think British forces shouldn’t risk death to protect Libyan opposition forces against Gaddafi’s regime.

Only 35% agree it is right for the UK to take military action against Colonel Gaddafi’s forces in Libya, while two thirds either disagree (43%) or don’t know (22%).

Nearly half (49%) agree that military action in Libya is an unnecessary risk for Britain to take, although 31% disagree. Asked if they feel they have a good understanding of why the UK is planning military action in Libya, more than half (52%) agree.

Contrast this with the 54% support for the British role in the invasion of Iraq in the days after it started, rising to 63% support in April 2003.

ICM/Guardian, fieldwork 21-23 March 2003
Q.1 Do you approve or disapprove of the military attack on Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein?
Approve 54%
Disapprove 30%

Tonight’s Libya poll also contrasts with opinion polls in America. A CNN/Opinion Research poll carried out on Friday through Sunday and released Monday found that “54 percent approve of the use of American and other countries’ missiles and fighter jets to protect Libyan civilians and enforce a no-fly zone. Forty-three percent oppose that.”

Update: There is also a YouGov poll tonight, taken yesterday and today (a bit later than ComRes, Friday to yesterday) which has a different result: 45% of people say Britain, the US and France are right to take military action against Libya, 36% think it is wrong.

ComRes interviewed 2,028 GB adults online between 18 and 20 March. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.  Full data tables available at ComRes.

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  • smike e

    JohnJustice
    I’ve read your reply, and I’m definitely not impressed.
    I’m more impressed by Kofi Annan’s verdict that the Iraq invasion was illegal and that it was conducted without UN sanction.

    The issue you disputed was whether the UN gave it’s backing to the invasion, not whether UN backing was necessary regarding 1441 within the terms of your personal assessment

    In this, it’s beyond dispute that that the invasion was carried out without the required number of UN members backing it as laid out in the UN charter; as I’ve already explained at length to you in my previous comment.
    Nothing can change that simple fact; ever.
    You can repeat your opinion about 1441 and the wit and will of others (meaning the UN) for eternity, but it still won’t change the simple fact that an insufficient number of UN members, four, supported a resolution backing the invasion instead of the required nine members out of fifteen. It’s simple arithmetic.

    You can read Kofi Annan’s verdict below; I believe it carries more weight than yours:

    From The Guardian, Thursday 16 September 2004
    Article ‘Iraq war was illegal and breached UN charter, says Annan :

    “The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, declared explicitly for the first time last night that the US-led war on Iraq was illegal. Mr Annan said that the invasion was not sanctioned by the UN security council or in accordance with the UN’s founding charter. In an interview with the BBC World Service broadcast last night, he was asked outright if the war was illegal. He replied: “Yes, if you wish.”

    He then added unequivocally: “I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal.”
    “Mr Annan has until now kept a tactful silence and his intervention at this point undermines the argument pushed by Tony Blair that the war was legitimised by security council resolutions.”
    “The UN chief had warned the US and its allies a week before the invasion in March 2003 that military action would violate the UN charter. But he has hitherto refrained from using the damning word “illegal”.
    Mr Annan last night said that there should have been a second UN resolution specifically authorising war against Iraq. Mr Blair and Mr Straw tried to secure this second resolution early in 2003 in the run-up to the war but were unable to convince a sceptical security council.
    “Mr Annan said the security council had warned Iraq in resolution 1441 there would be “consequences” if it did not comply with its demands. But he said it should have been up to the council to determine what those consequences were.”

    Once again, you can assert your interpretation of 1441 all you like.
    But you cannot say with any veracity that the invasion was sanctioned by the UN, because the UN rules meant that it wasn’t. Whether you think it was morally justified is totally irrelevant: no one’s interested.

  • greenectoplasm

    What was her security clearance? Is this the best you can come up with?

  • JohnJustice

    Since when has Kofi Annan become an expert in international law?

    The invasion was sanctioned by 1441 reviving earlier resolutions referring to all necessary measures in the event of non-compliance aa well as by the reference to serious consequences in 1441.

    Paraphrasing Ming Campbell’s remark justifying military action in Libya, what do you think the words “serious consequences” meant in the context of 1441? I dare you to read the full text btw.

    And just in case you come back on my international law credentials, I admit I’m not an expert either. No one is, to the extent that they can say definitively that the Iraq war is illegal. There are only views one way or another, depending on whether you think the war was morally right or wrong. I think it was morally right.

  • cyan22

    Cameron, listen to the British people.

    We see through your mouth pieces Sky and the BBC news.

    Read the blogs 90% of us do not want this war on Libya !

    Are you listening Cameron ?

    No!….thought not!!


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