WASHINGTON -- Despite failed peacekeeping efforts in Somalia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Americans still believe strongly in the United Nations and its goals, although not so blindly as to ignore the world organization's middling record of achievements, according to a new poll.
In fact, the poll found that Americans have a more favorable view of the United Nations than they do of Congress or the U.S. judiciary. Sixty-seven percent of Americans have a very favorable or mostly favorable attitude toward the United Nations, compared with 53 percent who hold those views about Congress and 43 percent who see the courts that way.
The results, from a survey by the Times Mirror Center for the People and the Press, were released by director Andrew Kohut at a seminar in San Francisco on Saturday, two days before the 50th anniversary of the signing of the U.N. Charter.
The results appear to back up U.N. Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright's contention that the anti-U.N. mood of Congress' Republican leaders does not reflect the mood of the U.S. public. She has made that point recently in various speeches and congressional appearances.
But the public does agree with Republican leaders that the United States pays more than its fair share of U.N. costs, the poll found.
The poll also found that 62 percent of Americans think the United States should cooperate with the United Nations. That is a decline from the 77 percent who thought that way in 1991 during the Persian Gulf war, but it is far ahead of the 46 percent who believed in cooperation in 1976.
The mid-1970s are perceived by many analysts as the nadir of the United Nations, when the Security Council was paralyzed by the Cold War and when Third World governments used their majority in the General Assembly to rebuke the United States and the West.
The Times Mirror Center is a nonprofit public interest unit of Times Mirror Co., which owns the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, The Sun and other newspapers. For the survey, telephone interviews were conducted with 1,007 adults June 2-6 and with 1,500 adults June 8-11. The poll has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.