USA Today & "Editor & Publisher", 6/15/2005
Newly released figures from Gallup indicate that "Patience for the war has dropped sharply," *USA Today* reported June 13. *Editor & Publisher*, reviewing recent editorials, concludes: "A flood of pessimistic articles in major newspapers this weekend, calls by some in Congress for a timetable for withdrawal, and now a new Gallup poll suggest to at least one military historian that the American public has reached a 'tipping point' on Iraq."
1. POLL: USA IS LOSING PATIENCE IN IRAQ
By Susan Page
USA Today June 13, 2005
WASHINGTON — Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, a new Gallup Poll finds, the most downbeat view of the war since it began in 2003.
Patience for the war has dropped sharply as optimism about the Iraqi election in January has ebbed and violence against U.S. troops hasn't abated. For the first time, a majority would be "upset" if President Bush sent more troops. A new low, 36%, say troop levels should be maintained or increased.
The souring of public opinion presents challenges for the president, who ha vowed to stay the course until democracy is established and Iraqi forces can ensure security. He hasn't suggested sending more U.S. troops.
"We have reached a tipping point," says Ronald Spector, a military historian at George Washington University. "Even some of those who thought it was a great idea to get rid of Saddam (Hussein) are saying, 'I want our troop home.' "
The pattern of public opinion on Iraq — strong support for the first two years that then erodes — is reminiscent of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, he says.
White House spokesman David Almacy, asked about the poll, said it was "vital" for U.S. peace and security that "we complete the mission by training Iraqi to provide for their own security, and then our troops can return home with the honor they have earned."
Bush's approval-disapproval rating was 47%-49%, a tick worse than it was two weeks earlier but in the same range it has been for a year.
The poll is consistent with other recent surveys that show growing concern about the war. In an ABC News-*Washington Post* poll last week, two-third said the U.S. military was bogged down in Iraq, and nearly three-quarter called the casualty level unacceptable.
Bush says progress has been made in fighting the insurgency and training Iraqi forces, but the administration hasn't set a timetable for the withdrawal of nearly 140,000 U.S. troops. The Defense Department said Friday that 1,293 Americans have been killed in hostile action.
In the Gallup Poll, 56% say the Iraq war wasn't "worth it," essentially matching the high-water mark of 57% a month ago.
Of those who say the war wasn't worth it, the top reasons cited are fraudulent claims and no weapons of mass destruction found; the number of people killed and wounded; and the belief that Iraq posed no threat to the United States.
Of the 42% who say the war was worth it, the top reasons cited are the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, the need to stop terrorism and a desire to end the oppression of the Iraqi people.
Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relation Committee, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that an "incredible gap between the reality on the ground and the rhetoric back here" is costing Bush support on the war.
On ABC's "This Week," Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., an ardent supporter of the invasion, called on Bush for a timetable for withdrawing troops. "I feel that we have done about as much as we can do," he said.
2. POLLS, AND REPORTS FROM IRAQ, REVEAL PESSIMISM ON WAR
By E&P Staff
Editor & Publisher June 13, 2005
NEW YORK — A flood of pessimistic articles in major newspapers this weekend, calls by some in Congress for a timetable for withdrawal, and now a new Gallup poll suggest to at least one military historian that the American public ha reached a "tipping point" on Iraq.
The new Gallup survey finds that 59% of Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, the largest number in that category ever. Nearly half of that number, 28%, want all troops out. And, for the first time, most Americans say they would be "upset" if President Bush sent more troops.
Accounts from the field in Iraq this weekend and today in the *Washington Post*, the *New York Times*, and Knight Ridder newspapers, among others, all painted a picture of an Iraqi army unable (and to some extent, unwilling) to take over the lion's share of military activities for at least two years and perhaps much longer.
Tom Lasseter, longtime Knight Ridder correspondent in Baghdad, wrote for today's papers: "A growing number of senior American military officers in Iraq have concluded that there is no long-term military solution to an insurgency that has killed thousands of Iraqis and more than 1,300 U.S. service members during the past two years. Instead, officers say, the only way to end the guerrilla war is through Iraqi politics, an arena that so far has been crippled by divisions between Shiite Muslims, whose coalition dominated the January elections, and Sunni Muslims, who are a minority in Iraq but form the base of support for the insurgency."
"We have reached a tipping point," Ronald Spector, a military historian at George Washington University, told *USA Today*'s Susan Page. "Even some of those who thought it was a great idea to get rid of Saddam [Hussein] are saying, 'I want our troops home.'"
The pattern of public opinion on Iraq is reminiscent of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, he said. A different poll last week found that 42% now liken the Iraq war to the Vietnam experience. Even Rep. Walter Jones, the man behind the "freedom fries" campaign, came out for withdrawal over the weekend.
Gallup also found that 56% of Americans now feel the war was "not worth it." An ABC News-*Washington Post* poll last week found that nearly three-quarter called the casualty level unacceptable. The count reached 1,700 over the weekend.
Of those who say the war wasn't worth it, the top reasons cited were: false claims and no weapons of mass destruction found; the casualty count; and belief that Iraq posed no threat to the United States.
In today's *New York Times*, a field report on Iraqi performance by John F. Burns and Sabrina Tavernise concludes: "Despite the Bush administration' insistent optimism, Americans working with the Iraqis in the field believe that it could be several years, at least, before the new Iraqi forces will be ready to stand alone against the insurgents. . . .
"Earlier this year, the Pentagon suggested that an initial drawdown of the 140,000 American troops in Iraq might begin by the end of this year. Now, American generals are saying it could be two years, perhaps longer."