Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Did An Alarm Clock Go Off Somewhere?

Proponents of the war in Iraq are fond of ridiculing and immediately dismissing any discussion of parallels to Vietnam. I'll have more to say about those parallels in another post soon. In one respect, however, the booster club is right---it's different this time. It took five years and a far higher number of casualties for the American public to even begin to sour on the Vietnam War the way it has on Iraq after just two years. From the WP:
For the first time since the war in Iraq began, more than half of the American public believes the fight there has not made the United States safer, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

While the focus in Washington has shifted from the Iraq conflict to Social Security and other domestic matters, the survey found that Americans continue to rank Iraq second only to the economy in importance -- and that many are losing patience with the enterprise.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say the number of casualties in Iraq is unacceptable, while two-thirds say the U.S. military there is bogged down and nearly six in 10 say the war was not worth fighting -- in all three cases matching or exceeding the highest levels of pessimism yet recorded. More than four in 10 believe the U.S. presence in Iraq is becoming analogous to the experience in Vietnam.

Perhaps most ominous for President Bush, 52 percent said war in Iraq has not contributed to the long-term security of the United States, while 47 percent said it has. It was the first time a majority of Americans disagreed with the central notion Bush has offered to build support for war: that the fight there will make Americans safer from terrorists at home. In late 2003, 62 percent thought the Iraq war aided U.S. security, and three months ago 52 percent thought so.
Up until now I've thought that most people were too busy flipping spec homes or following the Michael Jackson case to care about something like a war. Maybe--just maybe--there's a chance I'm wrong.

42 Comments:

Anonymous cindymd said...

A small chance, but a chance nonetheless.

6/08/2005 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does seem like there is a tipping point with all of this,
and when public opinion comes crashing down, it will
come crashing down hard. The next 2 years are going to be interesting, that's for sure.

6/08/2005 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Scott_api said...

Don't get your hopes up. CNN or FOX will break out the "Hey there's a missing white woman" story, and this will all go down the right-wing memory hole. I enjoy reading your blog, TCR, but I have lost faith in anything associated with 'conservative'. Too many self-described conservatives have put the party before the country. McCain is reviled by the right, you are accused of being a left-wing plant, and if I don't face the White House and pray a couple of times a day, I am accused of being unpatriotic and of hating America. It may be time to hang it all up and go find an island to hide out on. I hear there is good monay to be had for making those little umbrellas they give you with your drinks down there.

6/08/2005 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always strongly believed that the Bush house of cards would crumble. My naive optimism has predicted the imminence of this crash far too many times, but I still believe it is inevitable. It's just a matter of when.

The American citizenry is indeed a soul lost in banality, emotionalism and confusion of late, but in the end it is a practical soul, not an ideological one.

6/08/2005 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I keep thinking of 2000 when Bush said he was going to bring integrity to the Whitehouse; and so much for that moderate Conservative thing too. If all these things our President is doing, the Iraq war, privatizing Social Security, energy policy, are such a good thing, why do they have to hide behide lies and gimmicks. Now who are the real girlie men!

Thomas Friedman said if we broke it we own it and it is our responsibility to fix it. Not that I think this should change our minds, but we have been averaging 2 service people a day since the start of the war in 3/2003 (although the Britian Downing Report suggests the President started the war in 2002 even without Congress), and who knows exactly how many thousands are injured; and I guess Iraqi's don't count - Bush did say he would sacrifice short-term stability (with today's weaponry this is dangerous thinking); and if you happen to fall within that short-term thinking it could be mighty uncomfortable right now. It sure would have been nice to have been 1) truthful upfront of why Iraq, 2) listen to critics or other ideas before Iraq, 3) made sure our service people were equipped and trained, and 4) have an exit plan. I don't think we plan on leaving for decades if ever, thus any talk of exit is moot. There is a bigger reason why we are there than we have been told, it could be economics, but I bet a million bucks we don't leave; if there is talk, watch for something to happen, a distraction. They wanted a Pearl Harbor and got one, they aren't going to waste it. I don't know a single person that thinks Iraq made us safer, but that wasn't the real reason, was it?

I think of Iraq like a family fighting (Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds) and the parent (US) are keeping the lid on the smouldering fighting among relatives, but everyone knows as soon as the parent leaves, the lid will come off and the fighting begins, and I don't think there is any denying it at this point. For long term peace in Iraq, I think they have to duke it out among themselves. We just prolong the inevitable.

I heard someone describe our situation today: if the world were a bar, we would currently be the angry drunk waving around a loaded gun. Sure other people in the bar may be afraid of him, but they sure don't respect him. And as soon as he drops that gun, he's going to get his butt handed to him. A great country, based on rule of law should strive for respect to achieve great things.

6/08/2005 11:56 PM  
Anonymous C.b. said...

The administration can keep saying "It isn't like Viet Nam" all they want, but they can't make people forget about something that happened in recent memory.

6/09/2005 12:49 AM  
Blogger SugarDuck said...

I don't know. The WP has been doing a lot of polls lately and it seems like they are trying to get anti-Bush results. I'd like to know how reliable these polls are.

Look at how they describe this poll:

" For the first time since the war in Iraq began, more than half of the American public believes the fight there has not made the United States safer"

Wow! more than half! sounds like a lot! this could be bad for Bush!

But later down:

"Perhaps most ominous for President Bush, 52 percent said war in Iraq has not contributed to the long-term security of the United States, while 47 percent said it has."

52 percent? Yes, that is more than half - just barely. And 47 percent - that's just 3% less than half - still think the war made us more secure.

What's the margin of error on this poll anyway?

I guess I'm a pessimist but Bush reminds me of Reagan in that nothing seems to touch him. I don't think he'll ever get called on his crap.

6/09/2005 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Years of right-wing propaganda have convinced lots of people that the only reason we lost Vietnam to the communists was a lack of willpower. It's simplistic, it's silly, it plays to the American desire to never admit to failure- but it plays well with a population who generally won't go near a history book unless it's about the civil war, WW2, or the golden age of hollywood.

So people might be unhappy about the war, but they're going to stick with it for the foreseeable future just so "we don't let the terrorists win." At the risk of being brutally grim, two to three thousand KIA and 10-20 seriously injured or maimed doesn't have that much impact on a nation of 300 million or so, where we lose literally thousands of people to, and get thousands of cripples from, medical mistakes, crime, and car accidents.

6/09/2005 8:48 AM  
Anonymous EWK said...

I don't think that large number of people are suddenly seeing that the war was a mistake and never should have been fought, that would require them to admit they were wrong for supporting it.

Truth? Most American’s still don’t know the truth about Vietnam (hell most people probably don’t know the truth about the Spanish American War), support for the war ended because they ran out of poor kids and started drafting middle class kids. People didn’t turn against the war because they came to realize how it really started and how futile the entire thing was. I think that is a major reason why it is still divisive whenever politicians like Kerry come along who force people to confront it yet again. (I think this why draft dodgers get a pass but guys like Kerry or Gore don’t) People want to think that we lost because of poor leadership; we didn’t let the military really fight; or we made them fight with one hand behind their backs, and so on. Of course doing that would have meant drafting even more of their sons even sooner and so support for the war would have died even sooner…Americans are very good at ignoring inconvenient facts or holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously if it makes them more comfortable.



Since Vietnam the great American public has been conditioned for short easy wars that look good on TV. Bush sold this war as a quick easy victory; he never built up the public support for long messy nation building. The longer it goes on the more support dies.



Of course people like Dean don’t get credit for being right, most people won’t make the connection that since the war is clearly a mistake then people who were against it were right. People always go for the popular opinion from highschool on the majority of people are trying to conform. So 2 years ago it was popular to be for the war only icky hippies and evil America hating liberals were against it. The same people who are now turning against Bush were cranking the Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood back then and will be again as soon as the next war starts.

6/09/2005 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the British Downing Street memo, they predicted a "protracted and costly" postwar occupation (nation-building exercise) of that country (Iraq).

And that "little thought" has been given to, among other things, "the aftermath and how to shape it."

"Bush and his aides believed war was inevitable and were determined to use intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and his relations with terrorists to justify invasion of Iraq" --- "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,"

"Blair's aides were not just concerned about Washington's justifications for invasion but also believed the Bush team lacked understanding of what could happen in the aftermath."

None of this is really news (unless you only watch Fox cable maybe), because it was out there from veterans, Generals, and others; there were people that wanted to talk about alternatives but were instead attacked, maligned, and threatened.

We don't plan on leaving and it unfortunately is only going to get worse, as each side will want victory at all cost. It truly is time for the Iraqi government to standup and take control of their country.

It is looking more like the draft will be inevitable. Well, at least it will get more people talking about which direction we want to take our country.

Depending on what you read, there is over $9 billion dollars lost in Iraq that was suppose to go to reconstruction; it just simply is unaccounted for.

It doesn't matter how you feel about Saddam (we all can agree he was rotten), but I don't think anything can justify going to war on a lie, and then the colossal errors. Are we "shocked and awed" now...

6/13/2005 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Stuffman said...

I really agree with you. This war in Iraq is a complete waste of time. I have been against bush ever since his first decision in office. Besides, if anything, the war in Iraq made America less safe than ever. More people hate America now, and Iraq is now a terrorist breeding ground because American troops killed 180,000+ Iraqi civilians.

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