Tuesday, August 16, 2005

New poll reflects growing U.S. worry over Iraq

New poll reflects growing U.S. worry over Iraq
By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new survey shows the U.S. public is unhappy with U.S. handling of Iraq and with how the Bush administration deals with the Muslim world in general.

The latest poll reflects a growing disquiet seen in other recent surveys over U.S. involvement in Iraq and a dip in President George W. Bush's overall job approval rating.

The poll, to be published in next month's edition of Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, found nearly six in 10 Americans were worried about the outcome of the war in Iraq.

"Soon the grumbling may become too loud for the Bush administration to ignore," wrote Daniel Yankelovich, who heads Public Agenda, a nonprofit research group that did the poll for the council. It is the first in a new "foreign policy index" to be conducted every six months.

The Bush administration insists that Iraq is on the road to establishing a democracy that would help bring about peace, but the president's credibility on Iraq has been slowly eroding among the U.S. public in recent months amid a continuing bloody insurgency.

Asked whether the United States was meeting its objectives in Iraq, 56 percent in the poll said the United States was not while 39 percent said it was.

The findings were based on a random sample of 1,004 adults over the age of 18 who were interviewed between June 1 and June 13, 2005, before a surge of violence in Iraq in recent weeks. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

When asked to name the most important global problems facing the United States, Iraq and terrorism were the top concerns. Immigration and U.S. relations with the Muslim world were also becoming hot-button topics.


Three quarters of those polled worried the United States might be losing the trust and friendship of other countries and that there might be growing hatred of the United States in Muslim countries.

When asked an open-ended question on how the rest of the world saw the United States, nearly two-thirds said the rest of the world had a negative view and one in 10 used the word "bully" or "bullying."

"So far, public thinking is a disquieting mix of high anxiety, growing uncertainly about current policy and virtually no consensus about what else the country might do," said the report accompanying the poll.

A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll last month found a majority of the U.S. public doubted the United States would win the war in Iraq and believed the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans over Iraq's weapons capabilities when it went to war in 2003.

Bush has also taken a public relations battering while on vacation in Texas -- where hundreds of anti-war demonstrators, led by the mother of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, have camped outside the president's ranch.

The president has said repeatedly the United States will not prematurely withdraw troops from Iraq because doing so would betray that country and put U.S. security at risk.

In the latest poll, the United States did get high marks for aiding other countries in need. Asked about America's performance in helping other nations during natural disasters, 83 percent of the respondents gave the United States high grades.