Mar 212011
Authors: McClatchy-Tribune

WASHINGTON — A new poll finds that seven in 10 Americans support the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya, but that an equal amount would oppose sending in ground troops.

The CNN/Opinion Research survey of 1,012 Americans was conducted from Friday through Sunday, which means some were interviewed before the launch of Operation Odyssey Dawn on Saturday.

Support for the no-fly zone increased in the past week. An earlier survey found that 56 percent would support such an operation, while 40 percent opposed it. The new survey pegged support at 70 percent, with 27 percent opposed. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

When asked about directly attacking Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s troops, support slips to 54 percent. And only 28 percent of respondents said they would support sending in U.S. ground troops.

As lawmakers in both parties raise questions about the mission of the coalition operation, 77 percent of those surveyed by CNN said removing Gadhafi from power is a very important or somewhat important foreign policy goal for the nation. Eighty-three percent said protecting civilians threatened by Gadhafi’s forces is an important goal.

The poll showed moderate support for how President Barack Obama is handling the situation in Libya — 50 percent approve, while 41 percent do not.

As Obama traveled to Chile, White House officials told reporters that the president “has been personally and deeply involved” in the process. He had a secure conference call with his national security team Monday morning.

“When the president made these decisions, he’s been absolutely clear, I think, with the American people, with the congressional leadership, with us and the military leadership, that this is a targeted mission; that the United States’ contribution to this mission is quite targeted and it is limited in scope and duration; and it is the unique things that the United States can bring,” national security adviser Tom Donilon told reporters on Air Force One.

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