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US Public Opinon Surveys Show Support for Air Strikes

Initial public opinion surveys conducted in the United States show overwhelming support for U.S. and British air strikes in Afghanistan - as high as 94 percent in one poll conducted by The Washington Post newspaper.

Attorney Peter Canesky sips from a cup of steaming coffee as he walks to his office in downtown Miami. He says he fully backs the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan as part of a long-term battle against terrorism.

"I think it is something that has to be done to provide security for us, for sure," he said. "I guess they [U.S. bombers] went to knock out the [Taleban] air defenses before they try to get the terrorists. That was the first thing they had to do. I think there are a lot of terrorists. There are cells all over, and just killing [Osama] Bin Laden is not going to eliminate it."

U.S. officials have warned that terrorists may attempt to attack the United States directly or U.S. interests abroad in retaliation for Sunday's air strikes and the further action promised by President Bush. Mr. Canesky says he is aware of the threat, but adds that fear of attacks should not paralyze the American public or deter the United States from pursuing terrorists.

"I think there is always the threat, and I think that is why we did what we did, to eliminate the threat," he said. "It has to be done, and I do not think you can let fear dictate your life."

Marc Gagne is a French businessman visiting Miami for several days. He says he fully supports the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan.

"I totally agree with the attack, because they [terrorists] would keep on bombing whether the United States attacks or not," he said. "The only thing I find unfortunate is that the United States was aware long ago about the situation in Afghanistan and should have gotten rid of the Taleban a long time ago. It is unfortunate that they had to wait until the attack in New York before talking about [backing] the Northern Alliance [in Afghanistan]."

Mr. Gagne says the United States is wise to provide food and other assistance to Afghanistan's impoverished populace, and to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties as it pursues terrorists.

"They are bombing and, at the same time, providing humanitarian help for the people in Afghanistan," he said. "If they keep it that way, it will be perfect. But if there are a lot of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, it may [negatively] affect the situation. If they focus on the Taleban, it should be fine."

But not everyone is eager for war. University of Miami student Albert Rodriguez walks the streets alone with a sign that reads, "The first casualty in war is your children." He says, by attacking Afghanistan, the United States is being drawn into a cycle of violence that will benefit no one.

"People are more interested in what the terrorists did to us and they do not question the reasons why," he said. "I am out here to make a statement against war because nothing good is going to come of it. I am not condoning terrorism, but I do not think that going in there [Afghanistan] is going to prove anything to these people [terrorists]. I think it may cause problems with other countries."

It is not known whether public support for the war on terrorism will remain in the 90 percent range in the months ahead, particularly if American forces begin to suffer casualties. But for now President Bush clearly enjoys overwhelming support in the initial phases of the campaign - in Miami, and across the nation.