Poll: Slight bounce in U.S. opinion on Iraq
There were two dramatic events in Iraq in recent weeks. First came allegations that U.S. marines may have killed innocent Iraqi civilians in Haditha. Then came the elimination of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.
So how do Americans think things are going for the United States in Iraq? A little better than three months ago. In March, 38 percent thought things were going well. Now, 43 percent feel that way. But most Americans, 54 percent, continue to believe the war is not going well.
The Haditha allegations were particularly troubling. "If these allegations are true," said Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, "The incidents dishonor the uniform and bring great pressure to bear on our mission in Iraq."
The public is inclined to believe that U.S. troops have crossed the line at times. Fifty-seven percent of Americans think it's likely that U.S. troops have committed war crimes in Iraq, compared with 37 percent who think it's not likely.
Some observers see recent developments in Iraq as a strong argument for the U.S. to begin withdrawing its forces. How does the public read the evidence? In March, most Americans wanted U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq within the next year.
Now, the pressure to withdraw has diminished, at least a bit. Forty-seven percent favor withdrawal within a year, while 48 percent believe U.S. forces should stay as long as necessary.
Despite recent events, Americans have not changed their minds as to whether the United States should have invaded Iraq in the first place.
Two months ago, 55 percent of Americans said it was a mistake for the U.S. to send troops to Iraq. How many feel that way now? Fifty-five percent.
Americans certainly see the elimination of Zarqawi as a positive development. But did it turn around opinion of the war in Iraq? No.