The London Independent & Editor and Publisher – 2005-06-12 09:27:09
Poll Finds Public Turning against War & Bush
Andrew Gumbel / The (London) Independent
(June 9, 2005) — Most Americans no longer believe the war in Iraq has made their country safer, and more than 60 per cent of the country believes the military is bogged down in a conflict that was not worth fighting in the first place, according to a new opinion poll offering only bad news to the Bush administration.
The poll for The Washington Post and ABC News poll, published yesterday, was the first survey in which a majority of Americans rejected the White House’s argument that invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein was good for domestic security. The poll also suggested that opinions were almost exactly evenly divided between those with a positive impression of President Bush’s “war on terror” and those it viewed it negatively.
The findings were particularly stunning, since security was among the leading issues on which Mr Bush won re-election last November. At that time, his approval ratings on anti-terrorism policy were roughly 60-40.
The poll also reflects a broader dissatisfaction with the second Bush administration. Almost every issue on which the White House has focused in recent months — social security reform, salvaging its most extreme judicial nominations, agitating to keep the comatose Terri Schiavo alive against the wishes of her husband — has proved unpopular.
If Mr Bush’s ratings on the terrorism question have fallen, it is in part because he has barely mentioned the topic. The Iraq findings were the most striking, because the public has clearly rejected the line put out by President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney that the US is turning the corner and that the insurgency is in its last throes. Almost 900 Iraqis and Americans have been killed in the past six weeks. Iraq’s oil pipeline to Turkey was hit by a new sabotage attack yesterday.
The Downing Street memo about an early decision having been taken to go to war and of the need for justification to be found for the Iraq invasion, is unlikely to have played much role as it has been given little prominence in mainstream US reporting.
But despite the findings of the survey, President Bush can draw some consolation. While he and his party are growing ever more unpopular, the Democratic Party’s ratings are equally dismal.
© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
Papers Reach Iraq Boiling Point
Greg Mitchell / Editor & Publisher
(June 9, 2005) — Suddenly there seems to be something in the air — the smell of death? Or something in the water — blood? In any case, this past week, widely scattered newspaper editorialists roused themselves from seeming acceptance of the continuing slaughter in Iraq to voice, for the first time in many cases, outright condemnation of the war.
While still refusing to use the “W” word in offering advice to Dubya — that is, “withdrawal” — some at least are finally using the “L” word, for lies.
Memorial Day seemed to bring out the anger in some editorial writers, who at that time are normally afraid to say anything about a current conflict that might seem to slight the brave sacrifices of men and women, past and present. Maybe it was the steadily growing Iraqi and American death count, or the increasing examples of White House “disassembling” (to quote the president this week), or the horror stories emerging from Gitmo.
Or perhaps it’s a hidden trend that might have even more impact than the rest: the writing on the wall spelled out by plunging military recruitment rates. That only adds to the sense that, overall, the Iraq adventure has made America far less safe in this world.
For whatever reason, it’s possible that more than a few editorial pages may finally be on the verge of saying “enough is enough.” Perhaps they might even catch up with their readers, as the latest Gallup polls find that 57% feel the war is “not worth it,” and nearly as many want us to start pulling out troops, not sending more of them.
There were numerous signs of editorial unrest in the past week, too many to cite. The Sun of Baltimore, in its Memorial Day editorial, declared: “If the president truly wished to honor their memory, he would demonstrate to the nation that the government that has botched so much of the war at least has some inkling as to how to draw it to a successful conclusion — so that the dead will not have died in vain.”
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune called Iraq “an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns. … President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes.”
Steve Chapman, syndicated columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune (and generally considered a conservative), on Thursday declared: “The dilemma the US faces in fighting the insurgents is that military methods are not enough to solve the problem and may make it worse. If the movement is a reaction to the US military presence, keeping American troops in Iraq amounts to fighting a fire with kerosene.
“That explains why the longer we stay, the more suicide attacks we face. And it suggests that the only feasible strategy is to withdraw from Iraq and turn the fight over to the Iraqi government. The alternative is to stay and keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last two years. But that approach has shown no signs of fostering success. It only promises to raise the cost of failure.”
But perhaps the most powerful denunciation came from an unlikely source, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. An editorial in that Hearst paper this past Wednesday, just after Memorial Day, really thundered, and deserves reprinting here:
President Bush was among the 260,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery when he said it. But it was clear Monday that the president was referring to the more than 1,650 Americans killed to date in Iraq when he said, ‘We must honor them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives; by defeating the terrorists.’
Bush insists on clinging to the thoroughly discredited notion that there was any connection between the old Iraqi regime — no matter how lawless and brutal — and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
US military action against an Afghan regime that harbored al-Qaida was a legitimate response to the 9/11 attacks. The invasion of Iraq was not.
As of Memorial Day 2003, Bush had declared major combat operations at an end, predicted that weapons of mass destruction would be found and that US forces were in the process of stabilizing Iraq.
One hundred sixty US troops had died.
The US death toll has grown more than tenfold. No weapons of mass destruction were found. More than 700 Iraqis have been killed since Iraq’s new government was formed April 28.
Bush said of the insurgents at a news conference yesterday, ‘I believe the Iraqi government is plenty capable of dealing with them.’
Of course, this is the same president that assured the world that military intervention in Iraq was a last resort and that the United States would make every effort to avoid war through diplomacy. Giving lie to that as well is the so-called Downing Street War Memo, which shows that as early as July 2002, ‘Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD … the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.’
Perhaps all presidents’ remarks in military graveyards are by nature self-serving. But few have been so callow as the president’s using the deaths of US troops in his unjustified war as justification for its continuance.
At the close of the editorial online, the paper polled readers, asking if they thought it was “time to begin the careful but quick withdrawal of American forces from Iraq?” These highly unscientific surveys usually should be ignored. But the result in this case, from over 2,600 votes, was so one-sided it deserves mention: Nearly 92% called for the beginning of a pullout.
Greg Mitchell (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the editor of E&P.
© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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