...according to a BBC World poll
As the President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winds up George Bush in New York this week, he will be cheered by a survey showing that only seven percent of Poles are in favour of a military strike against Iran if it fails to comply with demands to halt its nuclear research programme.
The people of the world are often a lot more sensible than the political classes (not really very difficult!) but the poll also reproduces some prejudices and misunderstandings that are regularly peddled in the media. The BBC sponsored poll suggests:
World opinion opposes aggressive steps as a way of stopping a possible Iranian nuclear arms programme, according to a 25-nation poll for BBC World Service.
The most popular course of action, with 39% support, was to use only diplomatic efforts; 11% favoured military strikes.
The survey asked 27,407 people in countries ranging from the US and UK to Brazil, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Israel, Nigeria, Poland, Russia and Turkey.
Only 17%, however, believe that Iranian nuclear development is for energy use only – despite no ‘smoking gun’ evidence to suggest the contrary. In Poland, 67% think that Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they would be concerned if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, with 43% saying they would be "very concerned".
In general, there appears to be a world-wide mandate for stricter controls on the production of nuclear fuels that could be used in weapons.
Fifty-two percent favoured a new effort to have the UN develop new controls, while 33% favoured preserving the existing system allowing non-nuclear powers to develop nuclear fuel but not weapons.
Here world opinion seems to be saying that sovereign nations should not be allowed to independently develop nuclear fuel. It also suggests that the UN – an organization which almost everyone seems to agree needs reforming – should be given more powers over the internal affairs of nation-states.
An average of 30% of respondents support economic sanctions if Iran continued to produce nuclear fuel. In Poland 41% support sanctions.
I remember Madeleine Albright, after she was asked whether the sanctions against Iraq, which killed around a half a million children, were ‘worth it’ she said, “Yeah, it was worth it.”
Sanctions were as much hated in Iraq as was Saddam Hussein. That coloured Iraqi opinion of the UN, and the US/UK invasion and occupation when it happened. Sanctions never work – they unite people against the outside, and not against the dictatorship or government. And Poles would tell you that even when the economy is on its knees and the people are suffering, somehow the ruling elite will still have loads of sausages on their table. Sanctions are immoral and counter productive.
The international political will is not behind sanctions. And I shouldn’t think that the president of Iran is too bothered about a military strike. The US really would be alone if it tried it – even if it could. And let’s face it: with US troops bogged down for the long term in Iraq and Afghanistan the likelihood of any sustained military action is about as likely as the president’s of Iran and the US giving each other a big, slobbery kiss.