Support for the war in Iraq has hit an all-time low and many Americans are becoming fed up with it, according to a new Gallup Poll released Monday.
Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed want the United States to withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, the highest percentage since the war began in 2003. A majority also said they would be "upset" if President Bush ended up sending more troops to the region, while only 36 percent — the lowest response on record — said troop levels should be maintained or increased.
More than half of Americans (56 percent) said the Iraq war was "not worth it." The top reasons cited were fraudulent claims and no weapons of mass destruction found, the belief that Iraq posed no threat to the United States, and the number of people killed or wounded. Since 2003, there have been more than 1,700 Americans killed, and while there are no official numbers kept on Iraqi deaths, many estimates are in the tens of thousands.
Polls conducted by The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center concur with findings that the American public continues to grow weary about the war. Nearly three-fourths told the Post the number of war causalities is unacceptable, and more than 40 percent said the U.S. presence in Iraq is reminiscent of the Vietnam War.
But what may be the hardest blow to the Bush administration is the finding that more than half of Americans (52 percent) said the war in Iraq has not contributed to the long-term security of the United States. It is a significant drop from the 62 percent surveyed in 2003 who said the war would aid homeland security.
"It appears that Americans are coming to the realization that the war in Iraq is not being won and may well prove unwinnable," retired Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor at Boston University, told the Post. "That conclusion bleeds over into a conviction that it may not have been necessary in the first place."
White House spokesperson Scott McClellan addressed the concerns during a press briefing on Monday, saying that while difficulties in the region remain, it is imperative that the United States stays on track until the mission is complete.
"It's important we continue to move forward to train and equip Iraqi security forces so that our troops can eventually return home with the honor that they deserve," he said. "We recognize how high the stakes are in Iraq. A free and peaceful Iraq will help bring powerful change to a dangerous region in the world, [and] it will make America safer."
President Bush's public approval rating has also suffered as a result of the war. Fifty-five percent of Americans said they disapprove of how Bush is handling his job as president, while only 43 percent approve, according to a recent Associated Press/Ipsos poll released Friday. Bush's popularity reached its peak shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, when various polls found that nearly 90 percent of the country approved of the job he was doing. It ranked close to 80 percent when Ipsos started tracking in 2002.
Congress fared even worse than the president, mustering up a lowly 31 percent approval rating. Both are the lowest since the survey began in December 2003.