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Majority in US believe Iraq war a mistake
Updated: 2004-12-22 11:01

US President George W. Bush, who campaigned on national security issues to win re-election, is set to enter his second term amid growing public disillusionment over the handling of the Iraq war.

As violence continues to shake Iraq, including Tuesday's attack on a US base in Mosul, two new polls show that for the first time a majority of Americans believe the Iraq war to be a mistake.

They also showed the president's job approval rating had dropped below 50 per cent only a little over a month after his re-election.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 56 per cent of Americans, a new high, said the conflict in Iraq was ¡°not worth fighting¡±, given the costs. Fifty-seven per cent said they disapproved of the way Mr Bush was managing the war, although 53 per cent did approve of his efforts on terrorism.

A CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll also showed a majority of Americans disapproved of how the war was being handled and that 52 per cent believed that Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, should resign. His job approval rating fell from 71 per cent in April 2003 at the height of Iraq invasion to 41 per cent, according to the poll.

On Monday Mr Bush offered a sober assessment of the Iraq war's progress, acknowledging that bomb attacks were proving ¡°effective propaganda tools¡± and calling the results of training Iraqi troops ¡°mixed¡±.

Mr Bush had offered a personal vote of confidence in Mr Rumsfeld, who has faced increasing criticism from Republicans and Democrats about the planning and aftermath of the war. The president also insisted ¡°the terrorists will fail¡±, but events in Iraq continued to suggest otherwise.

On Monday a mortar and rocket attack on a US military dining hall killed 24 people and wounded at least 60 in Iraq's northern city of Mosul, marking one of the deadliest attacks on US forces since the war began. Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, insisted on Tuesday that ¡°enemies of freedom¡± in Iraq ¡°will be defeated. . . They are being defeated¡±.

Iraq's transition to democracy received a strong signal of support on Tuesday from Tony Blair, UK prime minister, who flew to Baghdad to meet Iyad Allawi, the Iraqi prime minister, and officials organising the January 30 poll.

Mr Blair became the first world leader to go to the ¡°green zone¡±, the supposedly secure government area in the Iraqi capital, at a time of security concerns in the run-up to the elections.

The prime minister said he had nothing but ¡°admiration and gratitude¡± for those Iraqis and members of the international community who were working hard to ¡°strike an important blow for democracy¡±.

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