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Pessimism Deepens on Iraq

by Ruy Teixeira

In the latest Gallup poll, 55 percent think the US made a mistake sending troops to Iraq, 65 percent want to withdraw some or all troops–a new high–and, for the first time, a majority (52 percent) think we will not “win” in Iraq. And an overwhelming 75 percent believe it is likely there will be a major civil war in Iraq in the next year (or that there already is one).

Similarly, in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll:

An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that fighting between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq will lead to civil war, and half say the United States should begin withdrawing its forces from that violence-torn country, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that 80 percent believe that recent sectarian violence makes civil war in Iraq likely, and more than a third say such a conflict is "very likely" to occur. These expectations extend beyond party lines: More than seven in 10 Republicans and eight in 10 Democrats and political independents say they believe such a conflict is coming....

The survey highlights how support for the war in Iraq dissolved since the first months after the U.S. invasion. At the end of 2003, nearly six in 10 -- 59 percent -- said the conflict was worth the cost; today, 42 percent share that view. In the past nine months, the proportion in Post-ABC polls who say the United States should begin withdrawing its troops has increased from 38 percent to a 52 percent majority....

The poll found that 56 percent think the United States is not making significant progress toward restoring civil order in Iraq, while 43 percent think that stability is being reestablished -- a 17-point drop in optimism since December and the most pessimistic reading on this question since it was first asked in June 2004.

Donald Rumsfeld may deny that a civil war is unfolding in Iraq. But it would appear that the public–as usual–is way ahead of him.