Select Page,3604,839341,00.html 1 in 3 say Bush is biggest threat

Patrick Wintour and Ewen MacAskill Thursday November 14, 2002 The Guardian

President George Bush is seen by a third of Britons as a bigger threat to world safety than Saddam Hussein, according to a new poll conducted by a senior US Republican and due to be broadcast today.

But most of those questioned by the polling organisation You.Gov say they remain open minded, and ready to be convinced about the justification for an attack on Iraq.

The weighted poll of 3,200 people throughout the country was conducted for Channel 4 by Robert Lunz, a senior Republican strategist, based on the You.Gov sample.

Similar polling has been undertaken by Downing Street as it contemplates how to sell a war on Iraq.

The Channel 4 poll found that a third of the British public have no trust at all in Mr Bush, and many actually fear him. In a straight choice between Mr Bush and President Saddam as to who poses the greater threat to world peace, 32% said Mr Bush and 49% said President Saddam. Almost half see Mr Blair as Mr Bush’s lapdog, with the figure even higher among the under-30s.

Almost two-thirds of people said the only reason the US has targeted President Saddam is because he threatens US control of the Middle East – only a quarter feel it is because the Iraqi leader is a threat to world peace.

Blame for British casualties in a war with Iraq will be placed with Mr Blair himself, according to 21% of those polled.

Commenting on his findings, Mr Lunz said: “I would suggest that [Mr Blair] ring up the broadcast media and say, ‘Keep President Bush, keep Dick Cheney, keep all Americans with these American accents off television’, because it’s not helping his case.”

Despite the poll findings, the British government refused to tone down the bellicose rhetoric. The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, yesterday warned President Saddam that he will face confrontation if he fails to disclose a full list of the country’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Having accepted last Friday’s UN resolution, the next hurdle for Iraq will be to provide the list by December 8.

In a speech in London yesterday, Mr Straw said: “The message for Saddam Hussein is this: resolve this crisis peacefully by complying fully with UN inspectors and providing a full and complete disclosure of your WMD [weapons of mass destruction] holdings by 8 December, or choose confrontation.”

Iraq could claim in its declaration that it has some of the components to make weapons of mass destruction but has not actually made them.

But Mr Straw said: “The history of UN weapons inspections in Iraq is littered with examples of deceit, evasion, intimidation and harassment. I hope even Iraq will recognise the consequences of any repeat. If Saddam fails to cooperate fully, then he faces force.”

Mr Straw used the speech to announce that the Foreign Office is to embark on a fundamental review of foreign policy. This is to take account of relations with the Muslim world, weapons of mass destruction and other issues pushed to the forefront by the September 11 attacks. The results of the review are scheduled to be published early next year.

Mr Straw said the aim of the review was to establish long-term strategic priorities. He said it would have four central planks: tackling the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction; European security, especially the establishment of stronger ties with Russia; strengthening international organisations, such as the UN, and global economic development.