LONDON (Reuters) - Only one in three Britons agree with the decision to take military action in Libya, a poll published Monday showed.
The ComRes/ITN poll found that 43 percent disagreed with the action and 22 percent were unsure. Just under half of those surveyed felt military action was an unnecessary risk for Britain to take.
Haunted by the experience of the recent Iraq war and continued losses in Afghanistan, Britons told Reuters they were wary of getting dragged into another lengthy foreign conflict at a time of belt-tightening at home.
“We shouldn’t be in there, we’ve got enough on our plate in Afghanistan,” said Neil Wozencroft, a 35-year-old pipe fitter.
“It’s a civil war and we shouldn’t get involved, plus there are other atrocities in the world — the Congo and Mugabe in Zimbabwe. We can’t be the world’s peacekeepers.”
Both Britain and France — who led efforts on a no-fly zone in Libya — are having to introduce austerity measures to tackle large budget deficits, while at the same time people are having to cope with rising food and fuel prices.
“Is it really worth it? I ask myself,” said widow Roymonde Urien in Paris, concerned the air strikes might lead to a flood of immigrants from Libya.
All those Londoners quizzed by Reuters agreed they would like to see Gaddafi removed, but not through bombing. Despite doubts about the action itself, most praised Prime Minister David Cameron.
“He grasped the situation,” Phil Davis, a 43-year-old civil engineer, said. “He saw it was an issue and reacted to it.”
After a six-hour debate, the British parliament voted overwhelmingly Monday to support Cameron’s decision to send British planes and ships to help enforce a no-fly zone to stop attacks on civilians by Gaddafi’s forces.
Hanging heavy over the debate was the shadow of Iraq, where 179 British soldiers were killed in a long-running conflict after former Prime Minister Tony Blair backed then U.S. President George W. Bush’s decision to invade in March 2003.
“This is different to Iraq. This is not going into a country, knocking over its government and then owning and being responsible for everything that happens subsequently,” Cameron said. “This is about protecting people and giving the Libyan people a chance to shape their own destiny.”
- ComRes interviewed 2028 British adults online between March 18 and 20, when allies started to enforce a no-fly zone against Libya.
- Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults.