Delay of ground war supported by poll WAR IN THE GULF


PRINCETON, N.J. -- As President Bush and his advisers focus on when to begin a ground offensive in the Persian Gulf war, Americans strongly favor delaying ground action by continuing to rely on air power to do the job.

Nevertheless, according to the most recent Gallup Poll, most Americans thought the ground war would start soon, most continued to support Mr. Bush and U.S. involvement, and a majority felt the war should continue until Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was removed from power or his war-making capability was destroyed.

About three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans favored continuing to rely on air power to drive Iraq from Kuwait. Only 17 percent opted for an immediate ground offensive. Despite these attitudes, most (82 percent) thought the ground offensive would occur soon.

Most Americans also favored going beyond the mandate of the U.N. Security Council resolutions, which call only for driving Iraq from Kuwait. Six in 10 (62 percent) would like to continue fighting in order to force Mr. Hussein from power or destroy his war-making capability.

Americans are readjusting their estimates of the number of U.S. casualties they think will occur. Almost half (47 percent) now think at least several thousand Americans will be killed or injured, up from 33 percent in the first days of the war.

Mr. Bush's overall approval rating stood at a high 79 percent, down from 83 percent.

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