A Gallup poll conducted Monday finds more Americans approving than disapproving of the military action against Libya by the United States and other countries.
The March 21 poll was conducted just days after the United States joined other countries in conducting airstrikes against Libya to enforce a United Nations no-fly zone. The U.N. passed a resolution calling for a no-fly zone in response to reports that Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi had attacked Libyan forces opposed to his government.
The 47% of Americans approving of the action against Libya is lower than what Gallup has found when asking about approval of other U.S. military campaigns in the past four decades.
The most comparable military operations were Clinton's air-power-only attacks in Kosovo and Iraq. Several years ago, Gallup summed up the reaction:
"Operation Desert Fox"
Similarly, in December 1998, Gallup found nearly three in four Americans (74%) approving of a joint U.S.-British attack on Iraq launched in response to Iraq's failure to comply with U.N. weapons inspection requirements, and designed to damage Saddam Hussein's weapons capabilities. The following month, 56% of Americans said they approved of the way President Bill Clinton was handling the situation in Iraq.
Although a much larger undertaking than either Grenada or the 1998 air strikes against Iraq, a solid majority of Americans continually approved of the way Clinton handled the situation in Kosovo during the 1999 NATO-sponsored action. American troops made up a large share of the NATO force, and U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO's Supreme Commander in Europe, led the military operation that lasted approximately three months, from March to June 1999. In this period, between 55% and 61% of Americans consistently approved of the way Clinton was handling the situation in Kosovo. The fact that no U.S. soldiers were killed in combat during that war may have been an important factor in that support.