66 percent of Americans now see the light on the Iraq war
|Friday, April 20,2007 00:00|
|By Helena Cobban, justworldnews.org|
I am so, so happy that two-thirds (66 percent) of our fellow US citizens now share the opinion that a small group of us within the country have held and expressed since before the US war on Iraq ever started: namely, that this war was not worth fighting.
That link there goes to the first report of a new ABC News/WaPo opinion poll, published on the ABC NEws website today. The poll found, in addition, that 51 percent of US citizens now think that the US will "lose" the war in Iraq. Not defined there, though, is what the respondents understand the word "lose" to mean, in practice.... a topic that is certainly worth probing more deeply...
Hat-tip to Juan Cole on signaling the existence of this polling report. I was a little dismayed, however, to see that he reported the news of the poll in these terms:
We do, of course, need to keep in mind that back in March 2002 and for a considerable period of time after that, Juan supported the Bushites’ basic decision to launch the invasion of Iraq, though he criticized some aspects of the way it was launched. So the news that 66 percent of his compatriots now judge that the war he supported at that time "was not worth fighting" might well seem considerably "worse" to him than it does, for example, to me.
I think it is excellent news. At last the US people are starting to wake up!
Back to the ABC/WaPo poll. In addition to the above-linked short report published as a simple web-page, the ABC News site also has this PDF file with a fuller report on the poll, along with some fairly revealing time series. The following observations relate to the PDF version, with the page numbers from there.
... P.1 has an interesting little time series containing four ’snapshots’ since December 2005 of responses to the expectations question, Will the US win or lose the war? (Note this is not an assessment of whether it currently is winning or losing it.) Basically, back in December ’06, a plurality of respondents said they thought the US would lose (46% lose and 34% win.) The figures shifted in a January ’07 poll to 40% lose and 43% win. Now, April ’07, lose has surged again-- to 51%; and with win now at 35%.
(top of p.2) Yet, given pro and con arguments (avoiding further casualties vs. potentially encouraging Iraqi insurgents), a pullout deadline is not broadly popular. The public divides about evenly, 51-48 percent, on setting any deadline. It’s about the same specifically on the effort by congressional Democrats to force withdrawal by no later than August 2008.
DEMOCRATS – Indeed the Democrats in Congress haven’t conclusively seized the reins on Iraq: Their approval for handling the war is low as well, 37 percent. Nonetheless, they do continue to lead Bush, now by 25 points, in trust to handle it. By a similar margin, 58 to 34 percent, most say the Democrats are taking the stronger role in Washington overall.
Then, the report has this (still p.2):
We learn later (p.4) that the poll "was conducted by telephone April 12-15, 2007, among a random national sample of 1,141 adults, including an oversample of African-Americans." No explanation for that over-sampling... But still, very notable that the poll was conducted just a few days after all the Bushite fuming and media brouhaha about Pelosi visiting Syria.
On the Iraq war, the report says this (p.3):
On p.4, there is this:
situation in Iraq? The first is (READ ITEM). How about (NEXT ITEM)?
4/15/07 - Summary Table (Yes/ No/ No opinion)
a. Angry 54/ 45/ 1
a. Angry (Yes/ No/ No opinion)
4/15/07 54/ 45/ 1
b. Hopeful (Yes /No/ No opinion)
4/15/07 51 48 1
But here’s what I find interesting. Just a bit earlier, respondents were asked (qun.18, p.17) about their expectations regarding whether the US would win or lose in Iraq... And, as noted previously, 51% said they thought the US would lose. But we also have 51% of respondents saying they feel "hopeful" about the situation in Iraq. That means that at least 2% of the respondents-- and in reality, probably quite a lot more-- must have said both that they think the US will lose the war, and that they feel hopeful about the situation there.
These actually correspond fairly roughly to my own combination of judgments and sentiments... I believe the US will "lose" in terms of being forced to leave the country on terms not of the Bushites’ own choosing (though I don’t necessarily consider that an all-round defeat for the US citizenry as a whole.) And I remain somewhat hopeful about the longterm prospects for Iraq and its people-- particularly if everyone concerned can show the wisdom required to figure out a way for this US withdrawal from the country to be conducted in a way that is not chaotic for either the Americans or the Iraqis.
(Which I honestly believe still to be possible... Thoughit will require a huge amount of political vision and an equally huge commitment of political will by many different parties around the world.)
But whether those other US citizens who share my combination of expecting a US defeat and also being hopeful about the situation inside Iraq do so on exactly the same grounds as I do, or not, it is still really interesting to me that there are a noticeable number of other citizens-- we don’t know how many; but they/we verifiedly do exist!-- who can foresee a US "defeat" there and not be railroaded into thinking this is necessarily a disastrous outcome.
Linked to this, probably-- given the widespread concern about the threat from global terrorism-- is the degree of linkage Americans see between the outcome for the Bushites in Iraq and the level of the risk from global terrorism. So question 19 (p.17) is particularly interesting:
[The figures given are for: Agree with the first statement/ Agree with the second statement/ No opinion]
4/15/07: 37/ 57/ 6
All this is great. I always had faith in the essential decency, good sense, and fairmindedness of the vast majority of my fellow-citizens there in the US. And finally that faith is being shown not to have been misplaced. We do have some national-level leaders (in both parties, but mainly at the moment in the Democratic Party) who are able to withstand the shrill fearmongering of the Bushites. And we have-- as noted previously, here-- at least a partial return by some organs of the big US media to the role they should be playing: that of relentless truth-seeking.
I’ll be returning to the US at the end of next week, and plan to be spending more time in Washington DC than hitherto. It strikes me it’ll be an interesting time to be there.