Iraq War not Worth it: 52% of Americans
A new Washington Post/ABC poll shows that a majority of Americans now feels that the Iraq War was not worth it. It cost too many US lives, according to 70% of them, and 51% thought that it had not made Americans any safer. Not only has President Bush’s approval rating on the war on terror fallen to 50%, but the public now prefers Kerry to handle terrorism, 48% to 47% (Bush has lost 20% on this issue since March). Three-fourths of Americans say the war has damaged America’s image in the world.
A majority of Americans disapproves of Bush’s job performance over-all at 51%, while 47% approve. Kerry would win the election if held now by the same margin, even factoring in the Nader vote, the poll found.
Why has Bush lost so much confidence with regard to handling the war on terror? The fall in numbers is precipitate. As late as April, he led Kerry on it by 20 points.
I wish the pollsters had asked “why?” But what makes sense is that Bush hit the trifecta: Fallujah, Najaf and Abu Ghuraib. His brutal siege of a whole city, with some 600 Iraqis killed is one element. His decision to go after Muqtada al-Sadr and the obvious unpreparedness of the US military and the Bush-appointed CPA for the Shiite backlash is another. The revelation of the prisoner torture at Abu Ghuraib and the obvious revulsion it produced throughout the world, including the Muslim world, is the third.
The American public is not so foolish that it cannot see that the Bush administration is infuriating the Muslim world at the US gratuitously. If people thought it had been necessary to take that risk in order to stop Saddam from having weapons of mass destruction, or in order to stop him from colluding with al-Qaeda, they might have soldiered on. But it has become increasingly clear to them that the pretexts for the war were false. And therefore all the subsequent scandals and chaos were both unnecessary and reckless.
These numbers show that Bush has lost a significant number of independents. When his approval rating had sunk to 42% not so long ago, it suggested that he had begun to lose committed Republicans.
After all, a lot of Republicans could not be at all happy to see the US Department of Defense become the major purveyor of sensational internet pornography to the world. And, many Republicans may feel as Gen. Zinni does, that it was unwise to go after Fallujah and Muqtada al-Sadr, but going after them and then backing off made the administration look feeble and invited attack. The trifecta not only hurt Bush with independents, but the way he handled it probably hurt him with hardcore Republicans.
This brings us to the issue of Bush’s flip-flops. He tried to hang the charge of flip-flopping on Kerry. But Bush said he wanted heads to roll at Fallujah, and then had to bring in the Baath to run the city. Bush said he wanted Muqtada al-Sadr dead or alive, and now Muqtada is set to be a prominent parliamentarian. Bush said he would bring decency to the White House, and now his DoD is purveying pictures of Arab men being made to masturbate in front of prancing servicewomen.
The American public knows flip-flops when they see them. It is Bush that is engaging in them.