Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Majority of Americans say Bush lied about WMDs


Poll: Most believe U.S. won't win war
By Susan Page, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Most Americans don't believe the United States will succeed in winning the war in Iraq or establishing a stable democracy there, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll.

But an ambivalent public also says sending troops to Iraq wasn't a mistake, a sign that most people aren't yet ready to give up on the war.

"There's a lot of conflicting impulses here," says Andrew Kohut, director of the non-partisan Pew Research Center. A Pew poll last week also showed crosscurrents in attitudes toward the Iraq war. "People are giving bleak assessments on the one hand, and on the other hand (they're) saying maybe it was still the right thing to do."

The bombings in London this month also have roiled public opinion, intensifying a not-yet-settled debate among Americans about whether the Iraq war has made the United States safer from terrorism.

Strong fears that a family member might become a victim of terrorism spiked in the USA TODAY poll to its highest level since October 2001, just after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Also in the survey:

•For the first time, a majority of Americans, 51%, say the Bush administration deliberately misled the public about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction — the central justification given for invading. The administration's credibility on the issue has been steadily eroding since 2003 after stores of the weapons weren't found.

•By 58%-37%, a majority say the United States won't be able to establish a stable democratic government in Iraq, similar to the results when the question was asked in April 2004.

•About one-third, 32%, say the United States can't win the war in Iraq. Another 21% say the United States could win the war, but they don't think it will. Just 43% predict a victory.

Still, on the question designed to test fundamental attitudes toward the war — was it a mistake to send U.S. troops? — the public's view has rebounded. By 53%-46%, those surveyed say it wasn't a mistake, the strongest support for the war since just after the Iraqi elections in January.

Majority views on that question have fluctuated for the past year in response to good news and bad from Baghdad.

Richard Stoll, a political scientist at Rice University in Houston who has studied public opinion and the Iraq war, says support for President Bush's policies in Iraq has been gradually declining as the U.S. death toll has climbed and violence has continued.

"If there's no dramatic event like Osama bin Laden being captured, which is not predictable, I think we will continue to see American public feelings about Iraq slide downward," he says. "I don't think there's anything (the White House) can do that would all of a sudden cause that to reverse."

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