Friday, July 19, 2013

Passion and the War in Iraq

In March 2003, 80 percent of Americans supported the war in Iraq. Today, only 38 percent believe it was worth fighting, and although the general interest in foreign policy and the war has declined, passionate minorities still fight the war on social media and in their attitudes reported to pollsters.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows 19 percent of Americans strongly believe the war was worth it, but 43 percent, or more than two-to-one, strongly disagree.
Of course, Republicans remain more supportive.  Fifty seven percent believe the war was worth it, but only 27 percent of Democrats do.
Iraq became a liability for President Bush by late 2004 as it became clear the end was not near and the cost in lives and money was growing. Within a few months of Bush’s re-election, support for the war and his reputation began to sink in a nearly one-to-one relationship with support for the war.
Bush clearly believed the war was necessary and justified. His decision to launch the surge in 2007 may have been his toughest, but it turned out most successful in the war. But, as numerous observers have pointed out, the war had high costs not just for Bush, but the Republican Party:
  • Republicans damaged their reputation as the party that could be trusted to manage national security
  • It contributed to the debt, divided the party on fiscal issue and left Republicans with an image of irresponsibility 
  • It led directly to Republican losses in 2006 and 2008
  • It highlighted the estrangement between the Republican Washington establishment and the grassroots.
Of course, the current viewpoint on the war’s worth is being influenced by five years of Obama’s administration’s criticism of it and the November 2011 complete withdrawal. Republicans and independent voters’ views of the war have turned decisively negative in the last two years.

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