While most of America approves of the U.S. decision to go to war with Iraq, a majority of residents in the nation's capital do not, according to a Washington Post poll.

Forty-four percent of District residents support the war, compared with 75 percent in a nationwide Washington Post-ABC News poll also conducted Sunday.

Blacks have given less support to U.S. involvement in the gulf war in national polls, and the high percentage of war opponents in the District reflects the city's large black population. However, the poll indicated that whites in the District also are far less supportive of the war than are whites nationwide.

Thirty-seven percent of black D.C. residents said they approve of the war, while 60 percent said they disapprove. Sixty-one percent of whites locally support the war, while 37 percent disagree with it.

"We are trying to tell our kids that violence is not the answer as they keep shooting each other over drugs and tennis shoes and coats. How can we then fight -- use extreme violence -- over oil?" said Eurica Rogers of the District. "We are telling our kids to stop this war zone here, and we're starting one over in another part of the world."

Rogers, who lives on Capitol Hill, said she thinks about terrorist attacks a lot these days. "If I had the money I would leave for a while," she said. "If I were in Colorado or somewhere in the middle of the country, I don't think I'd be so terrified and scared. I can imagine me trying to duck bombs, trying to find my baby."

More than half of all D.C. blacks interviewed said they had a close friend or relative with the U.S. forces in the Middle East. Among whites, slightly more than one out of four said they had a close friend or relative among the troops there.

The overall percentage of D.C. residents, both black and white, with a family member or friend stationed in the Persian Gulf was virtually identical to the figure in national polls.

A majority of the 603 D.C. residents surveyed fear a terrorist attack in the area where they live, and they are more afraid of that possibility than Americans generally. Sixty-one percent of those polled in the District feared an attack here, compared with 28 percent of residents nationwide who said they fear an attack where they live.

A majority of D.C. residents, unlike those polled nationwide, also said they want the United States to begin peace talks with Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

"It is not our business to be over there," said Annette Poole, a health professional from Southeast Washington. "I don't believe in killing people. I believe we did not negotiate enough."

The Post poll indicated that D.C. residents are far more pessimistic about how long the war will last than Americans generally. Twenty-three percent of D.C. residents, compared with 11 percent nationwide, believe the Middle East conflict will unfold into a protracted war similar to that in Vietnam.

William F. Shelton, 64, who retired from the Army after 21 years, said he would not be surprised if 10,000 American lives are lost in the war. Shelton said he supports the effort, despite its potential costs.

"It is worth it, if we free Kuwait," said Shelton, who lives at the Soldiers' and Airmen's Home in Washington. "I don't think we should stop bombing. Even if they use the {captured} Americans as human shields, I don't think we should lay off the bombing."

Barbara Anderson of Washington, a job training coordinator for the federal government, predicted that the conflict will last nine months to a year. "I think Bush pushed Saddam Hussein into a corner and didn't work hard enough for a diplomatic solution. I strongly disagree with our policy," she said.

Eighty-two percent of D.C. residents polled said that winning equal rights for blacks in South Africa should be "as important" to the United States as liberating Kuwait.

"For us not to intervene in South Africa after all these years and to intervene immediately in Kuwait, seems like a double standard to me," said Ivan Barrow, 21, a Howard University student. "If America is attempting to have equality and democracy everywhere, there is a total absence of democratic principles in South Africa, blacks are totally subjugated to whites."

Jesse L. Jackson, elected by D.C. residents to lobby the Senate for statehood, has said he opposes U.S. involvement in Kuwait because the United States has not applied its "moral standard" evenly around the world.

"It was an ugly, murderous act -- Saddam Hussein's taking of Kuwait," Jackson said during an anti-war protest Saturday. "But the question is how to end it. We're not using military force in South Africa."

A majority of D.C. residents want U.S. bombers to avoid some potential military targets if Iraqi citizens might be killed in the attack, which runs counter to majority sentiment in the national poll. Washington residents also are more likely to have attended anti-war demonstrations than Americans generally and are more likely to approve of the protests.

"The whole reason for being an American is that one should have the freedom to express one's feelings," said Nuzhat Sultan-Khan, a District businesswoman. "Especially because we've been lied to in the past, people have a right to question the government's decision."

Senior polling analyst Sharon Warden contributed to this report.