Poll: Iraq won't be governing itself soon
Asked if it was worth going to war, smaller majority says no
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Americans overwhelmingly lack confidence that Iraq will have a stable government in place within the next year, and more than half say that the war has not been worth its cost, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday.
Fewer than one in five, or about 19 percent, of the 1,003 adults quizzed Friday through Sunday, said they believe Iraqis can assemble a sound, democratic government in the next 12 months that is able to maintain order without the assistance of U.S. troops. Seventy-five percent said they didn't believe that would happen.
Removing the deadline seemed to improve respondents' confidence, as 46 percent of those polled said the country would one day be able to produce a stable government. Another 46 percent said Iraq would never be capable of such a feat without U.S. assistance, and 7 percent said they had no opinion. (Watch the expectations for Iraq in 2006 -- 1:56)
The poll also suggested that most Americans remain skeptical about the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, with 52 percent telling pollsters it wasn't worth going to war. However, this is a marked decrease from a poll taken fewer than two months ago, indicating that 60 percent of Americans didn't think the war was worth the cost.
The poll, released Wednesday, said 46 percent of Americans thought the war was worthwhile, and 3 percent had no opinion. The poll had a sampling error of plus-or-minus 5 percentage points.
The poll was taken at a time of sectarian protests and a wave of renewed violence that followed Iraq's December elections for a permanent parliament. Hundreds of Iraqis and 30 American troops have been killed in the new year.
More than 2,200 Americans and an estimated 30,000 Iraqis have died since the invasion that deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Most of the U.S. casualties have come during battles against the insurgency that emerged after the April 2003 fall of the Hussein regime.
President Bush on Wednesday said victory in Iraq will come only when "the Iraqis are able to defend their democracy," and he repeated his pledge that U.S. troops will be able to "stand down" as more Iraqi police and soldiers are able to defend their country.
He further said that the U.S. stands by its decision to go to war and will not be dissuaded by the insurgency or the politicization of the war.
"Whether you agree with me or not, they're not going to shake my will," Bush said. "We're doing the right thing." (Read more of Bush's remarks about the war)
According to the poll, most Americans do not think things are going well in Iraq. Fifty-three percent of those polled said they believe the war is going poorly, and 46 percent said it was going well.
Also, 50 percent of those polled said the invasion was a mistake, while 47 percent disagreed.
The last time a majority of Americans surveyed in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll considered the war a worthwhile effort was August 2004.
Still, Americans are split over whether to begin making plans for a troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Forty-nine percent of those polled said they support establishing a timetable for withdrawal, while 47 percent said the troops should remain until their objectives are achieved.
Only 26 percent favored a withdrawal of troops within six months.
Responses to questions about a U.S. withdrawal had a sampling error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.
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