The Guardian carries an ICM poll this morning suggesting that 87% of people think Osama bin Laden is a great or moderate danger to peace, compared to 75% for George W Bush, 69% for Kim Jong-il, 65% for Hassan Nasrallah and 62% for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Other than the fact that British people don’t like George Bush much, which is hardly a surprise, what does it mean? Probably not much. The answers are probably a mixture of peoples’ opinions of the five men, of whether they think they are actually likely to start some form of conflict and of whether they have the ability to start whatever level of conflict people are considering when they answer the question (after all, Hassan Nasrallah is probably an extreme threat to peace in the immediately locality of Israel, somewhat less so on a world stage. George Bush has a military reach that extends across the globe. Osama bin Laden lives in a cave). At the core of the question is the unspoken question of who is the threat to world peace, who carries the moral responsibility for any conflict – the state who defies the world by developing nuclear weapons, or the state that takes military action against a state to stop it developing nuclear weapons?

The story make a very good newspaper headline, but beyond George W Bush’s unpopularity I’m not sure it really tells us anything.

The poll also asked whether the invasion of Iraq was justified. 71% of people said no. This would be a new high in opposition to the war in Iraq, but I suspect that the wording was that normally used by ICM (which mentions approval or disapproval, rather than justification) so it may not be comparable.

UPDATE: topping the poll in the Spine’s report of the figures was Heather Mills-McCartney, somewhat ahead of the Chuckle brothers. These might not be based on the actual tables…


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