WASHINGTON - The public sees the Iraq war as a failure and thinks the US troop buildup there has not worked, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll suggesting the tough sell President Bush faces in asking Congress and voters for more time.
A US Army soldier stands guard outside a reconciliation meeting between Sunni and Shiite leaders in the Radwaniyah area of southwestern Baghdad, Iraq on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2007. [AP]
The pessimism expressed by most people - including significant minorities of Republicans - contrasted with the brighter picture offered by Gen. David Petraeus. The chief US commander in Iraq told Congress on Monday that the added 30,000 troops have largely achieved their military goals and could probably leave by next summer, though he conceded there has been scant political progress.
By 59 percent to 34 percent, more people said they believe history will judge the Iraq war a complete or partial failure than a success. Those calling it a failure included eight in 10 Democrats, three in 10 Republicans and about six in 10 independents, the poll showed - ominous numbers for a president who hopes to use a nationally televised address later this week to keep GOP lawmakers from joining Democratic calls for a withdrawal.
"We cannot take any of this administration's assertions on Iraq at face value anymore," said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., a war foe and senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. "And no amount of charts or statistics will improve its credibility."
Underscoring the public's negativity, four times as many predicted the war in Iraq would be judged as a complete US failure as the number who see a complete success, 28 percent to 7 percent.
When the Gallup Poll asked the same question in September 2006, 52 percent said the war will be judged as a partial or complete failure, seven points fewer than the AP-Ipsos survey.
"The enemy was in Afghanistan, and I believe going into Iraq we took our eye off the ball," said Ann Bock, 66, a retired teacher and Democratic-leaning voter from Edmond, Okla., who participated in the survey.