[Marxism] Americans regret invasion, but still endorse occupation

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at rogers.com
Tue Dec 21 12:22:39 MST 2004

56 Percent in Survey Say Iraq War Was a Mistake

Poll Also Finds Slight Majority Favoring Rumsfeld's Exit

By John F. Harris and Christopher Muste Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, December 21, 2004; Page A04

President Bush heads into his second term amid deep and growing public
skepticism about the Iraq war, with a solid majority saying for the first
time that the war was a mistake and most people believing that Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld should lose his job, according to a new
Washington Post-ABC News poll.

While a slight majority believe the Iraq war contributed to the long-term
security of the United States, 70 percent of Americans think these gains
have come at an "unacceptable" cost in military casualties. This led 56
percent to conclude that, given the cost, the conflict there was "not worth
fighting" -- an eight-point increase from when the same question was asked
this summer, and the first time a decisive majority of people have reached
this conclusion.

Bush lavished praise on Rumsfeld at a morning news conference yesterday, but
the Pentagon chief who soared to international celebrity and widespread
admiration after the terrorist attacks three years ago can be glad he
answers to an audience of one. Among the public, 35 percent of respondents
approved of his job performance and 53 percent disapproved; 52 percent said
Bush should give Rumsfeld his walking papers.

Seven weeks since his reelection victory over Democrat John F. Kerry and
four weeks before his second inauguration, the poll suggests Bush is in a
paradoxical situation -- a triumphant president who remains acutely
vulnerable in public opinion on a national security issue that is dominating
headlines and could shadow his second term.

While the results are bad for Bush as people look at past decisions -- 
whether the Iraq war should have been waged in the first place -- the
president has more support for his policies over the choices he faces going

A strong majority of Americans, 58 percent, support keeping military forces
in Iraq until "civil order is restored," even in the face of continued U.S.
causalities. By a slight margin, 48 percent to 44 percent, more voters
agreed with Bush's position that the United States is making "significant
progress" toward its goal of establishing democracy in Iraq. Yet, by a
similar margin, the public believes the United States is not making
significant progress toward restoring civil order.

This was just one area where there was considerable ambivalence and even
pessimism about the challenges confronting U.S. policy in the coming months.

On the question of whether Iraq is prepared for elections next month -- a
topic widely debated among national security experts -- 58 percent of
respondents believed the violence-plagued country is not ready. Nonetheless,
60 percent want elections to go forward as scheduled -- even though 54
percent do not expect honest results with a "fair and accurate vote count."
Fifty-four percent are not confident elections will produce a stable
government that can rule effectively.

Bush waged his reelection campaign heavily on national security, but the
polling data reaffirm what similar surveys showed during the campaign: He is
winning only half the case.

A full 57 percent disapprove of his handling of Iraq, a number that is seven
percentage points higher than a poll taken in September. But the president's
core political asset, public confidence in his leadership on terrorism,
remains intact, albeit down significantly from even a year ago. Fifty-three
percent approve of his record on terrorism, while 43 percent do not. Those
numbers were 70 percent and 28 percent a year ago this week.

The public splits down the middle on Bush's overall job performance, with 48
percent approving while 49 percent disapprove, percentages that closely
approximate results taken just before the election. By contrast, President
Bill Clinton had an approval of 60 percent in a poll taken just before he
began his second term.

The Post-ABC results are consistent with other newly released surveys. Time
magazine, which this week named Bush its "Person of the Year," found that 49
percent approve of his job performance, little changed from before the
election. A Pew Research Center survey, meanwhile, showed that the angry
divisions about Bush that marked the 2004 campaign were hardly bridged by
the election's end -- nor were the sharply divergent appraisals of reality.
By emphatic majorities, Bush voters were upbeat on whether things are going
well in Iraq and with the economy, while Kerry voters were negative.

The Post poll also showed such partisan divides on many foreign policy and
national security questions. In a potential trouble sign for the White
House, Republicans' support for Bush on these questions is lower than the
Democratic opposition. And majorities of independents side with the
Democrats in their skepticism toward the administration's course.

There are sharp partisan divisions over Rumsfeld, with about two-thirds of
Democrats and slight majorities of independents disapproving of his job
performance and believing he should be replaced. Smaller majorities of
Republicans, about six in 10, approve of Rumsfeld and want him to stay in
the job.

There are similar splits on Iraq. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and
independents agree the elections should be held. But more than two-thirds of
Democrats and about six in 10 independents believe that Iraq is not ready
for elections and that the vote will not be fair and will not produce a
stable Iraqi government, in contrast to a majority of Republicans. Opinion
is even more sharply divided over the outcome of elections. Seven in 10
Democrats and five in nine independents believe elections will not produce a
stable government in Iraq, while more than two-thirds of Republicans believe
they will.

A total of 1,004 randomly selected Americans were interviewed Dec. 16 to 19.
The margin of sampling error for the results is plus or minus three
percentage points.


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