Tuesday, June 13, 2006
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.
Posted By Bill Schneider, CNN Senior Political Analyst: 11:07 AM ET
Hi Bill,
Let's face, we can't rewrite the past..We can't redo what has happened..But we can't withdraw tomorrow either..I'm personally pulling for the people of Iraq and hope they can have the country they want and deserve..History will tell us whether it was right or wrong..We can only deal with today and tomorrow, yesterday is long gone...I am thankful for our troops and appreciate their service..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 11:56 AM ET
Who votes for these things and do the real people get a vote. The war isn't going well and we shouldn't be there. They don't want our help. It has always been this way and will not change because of a president concerned with oil!!!
Posted By Anonymous Samantha V, Lawrenceville, GA : 11:59 AM ET
What the polls should be asking is "Do American's feel Iraq can bring security to their country without US help?" With all the recent events happening and the sneaky insurgents, my guess is that it's still going to be awhile.
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 12:07 PM ET
We may have killed al-Zarqawi, but we have yet to capture Osama bin Laden and we've been looking for 5 years already.

Considering we invaded Iraq because of WMD, al-Zarqawi is a bonus but his death does not make a three-year enterprise costing billions of taxpayer's dollars and thousands of lives worthwhile. Let's not forget why we went there in the first place or that our president lied to us about his purpose there.

Is one dead terrorist worth the lives of over 2000 American soldiers?
Posted By Anonymous Sarah, Baltimore, MD : 12:22 PM ET
I doubt we'll ever fully leave Iraq, nor should we. The presedence was set when we didn't leave Germany, Italy or Japan after those allied occupations. We set up bases to maintain the peace and establish a strategic force in the region. It is important that we maintain a force (U.S. or allied) to defend the Iraqis from Syria and Iran.
Posted By Anonymous Brian Reichley, Lansdale, PA : 12:43 PM ET
Hmm, 55% of US-types think it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq? Probably accurate, but I'll bet that same percentage could not find Iraq on a map. And an even higher percentage of those same folks could not locate Pakistan or Afghanistan or their closest public library.
Posted By Anonymous DJ Putnam, Alexandria, VA : 12:46 PM ET
I wonder why the foreign extremists don�t back off and delay their �fear� campaign in order to wait-out the US�s presence in Iraq. If their attacks were reduced to a much lower level of violence than they currently generate, the earlier the US would start redeploying our troops back to the states. Once we reduce our presence to below 30,000 troops the insurgents can call their own shots, certainly the Iraqi military will not be in a position to eliminate or even defused this threat.
Posted By Anonymous Lsarry A. Reseter, Morgantown WV : 12:59 PM ET
Hi Bill,
I am curious as to why the media (CNN included) has such trouble explaining to the American people what actually is going on in Iraq. You are allowing the Pentagon to frame the debate: you talk of "insurgents" and "terrorists" but don't sufficiently mention the underlying, extremely serious problems Iraq is facing.

There is no such thing as a "Iraqi" people - there are Sunni inhabitants and Shia inhabitants (the Kurds don't consider themselves Iraqis as all). The Sunni and the Shia are unfortunately locked in a fight for dominance and the militias on both sides are responsible for what looks like a bloody, protracted civil war.

It is your responsibility as a serious news network to go beyond the terms used by the Pentagon and offer the American public a complete picture of what is going on in Iraq, so that we all understand the impossible situation in which our troops have been placed.
Posted By Anonymous Charles Mill, Tacoma, Washington : 1:12 PM ET
"Is one dead terrorist worth the lives of over 2000 American soldiers?"
In one word...yes. It only took 11 to murder 3000 civilian Americans and cause the economy of the greatest nation of the earth to falter. Yes, we have lost 2000 troops in 3 years of war, but consider the broader strategy. We are taking the fight to them. I also believe that this administration went to Iraq with a pretext of war, but I believe it was done in order to attract terrorists to our brave volunteers in the Armed Forces so that we could eradicate them. Consider the analogy of a bug light in your back yard. To get rid of mosquitoes, you don't chase them one by one, you set up a target they like and annihilate them when they get close...
Posted By Anonymous Jim, Philadelphia PA : 1:25 PM ET
I am happy to be part of the 55% who maintain that the US invasion of Iraq was a mistake, and am able to locate Iraq on a map. There is a certain cultural relativism that seems to be lacking from our general understanding of situations in many foreign nations. Why do we assume that the death of a "radical" leader will put to rest a political ideology? Is the "success" of Zarqawi's death only realized in the short period of time before a successor is named?
Posted By Anonymous K Collins, Pittsburgh PA : 1:29 PM ET
what a great analogy Jim. I'm sure the men and women who have been killed or wounded will appreciate your insight.
Posted By Anonymous Louise, Baltimore, MD : 1:49 PM ET

Trust me you�re concerned with oil also; you just don�t know it.
Without oil our economy would crash and you would not be in the position to critique other people�s judgment. You take for granted this magic thing called oil which has a direct effect on almost every part of a product cycle. If every American took a macro economics class the polls would certainly be different. Threaten people's comfortable way of life and ideologies become less important.
Posted By Anonymous GB, New Orleans, LA : 1:49 PM ET
Jim from Philadelphia, your comment is right on. I lived in England during the "IRA incident" and feel much safer having our troops fight the terrorists in Iraq than have our emergency services clean up after them in the US.
Posted By Anonymous Mark, Tulsa OK : 1:51 PM ET
Americans, with their 5 minute attention spans and made up minds, are quick to say that Zarqawi's death will not make a difference. There will be a replacement and we'll have to see if he's as effective as Zarqawi. It may or may not. It's been said that Zarqawi was an extremely effective leader, especially with regards to the logistics of running a large scale campaign. If an equally effective replacement cannot be found, Al Queda's ability to operate in Iraq may start to dwindle.

In the American Civil War, the tide turned after the death of the brilliant Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville. It may not have been apparent to the North at the time that Jackson's death would be a sign of ultimate victory.

I don't think any of the anti-war crowd have the prescience to say what Zarqawi's death will mean to the Iraq campaign, but I've yet to hear from them an effective remedy for the worldwide Islamic extremism that's been rising since the 90's.
Posted By Anonymous Tom Ryan, Arlington, Virginia : 1:53 PM ET
The political parties are waging war, but it is against Americans. They are both sending out messages to promote fear. Democrats fear being in the place Republicans were in for over twenty years and Repulicans fear of gong back. Neither one seems to really care for America only for there political lives. We preach to the world the need for everyone getting together and coming together for peacce, yet both parties advocate distrust, lying, etc... only for their own political use.
Let's look back just a bit and try to see what did the last few administrations did to prevent 911. Very little. Bin Ladin was not in hiding and could have easily been detained, but we had to have a cigar in the Oral room, Oval room. We had Saddam on the run during the first Bush presidency, but congress stepped in and pulled Vietnam rank on the commander in chief trying to show the world something; Congress is in charge.
Today we are faced with more advanced technology. Technology that enables those who want to destroy freedom to make very quick and detailed assaults against any one who does not bow to their demands.
We need to give ourselves more of an advantage over the terroists. If we do not attempt to stay ahead of what these rotten people, who live only to kill America/Americans, we will be afforded more civilian casualties here in America and across the globe.
Politics is politics and war is war. Do not confuse the two like so many of our elected officals are trying to do. Politicians are only out to facilitate their own personal goals and achivements.
Term limit every political position and let's keep up to date thinking to our advantage.
Posted By Anonymous W Calper, Little Rock Arkansas : 2:00 PM ET
Yes, I can find Iraq on a map� and Afghanistan and Dubai and Abu Dhabi and my public library. Whew! In spite of all that, I still don�t think it was a good decision to invade Iraq. I don�t understand a previous statement, �We�re taking the fight to them.� No one from that country (Iraq) came after us. That was Osama bin Laden�s crew gathered from other surrounding countries, remember? And boy, it�s a real stretch to liken this war to putting up a bug light. You�ve GOT to be kidding! Guess one of your relatives hasn�t been dangled out there like a target. This isn�t a Hollywood movie; it�s real life.
Posted By Anonymous Margie, Milwaukee WI : 2:01 PM ET
I agree with Jim in Philly, and would like to add something. The comparison of one dead terrorist to 2000 Americans by Sarah is very misleading - maybe on purpose, maybe not.

What, all we've gained is one dead terrorist? No, we've eliminated an deadly terrorist leader, removed an evil madman (Saddam) bent on doing us harm, planted freedom and stability, severely damaged terrorist networks, and backed up 14 U.N. RESOLUTIONS, just to begin. All this is to our advantage and security - not to mention Iraq's.

Drop the 'Bush lied' chant because Hillary, Kerry, Reid, et al. said the same thing back then. Did they lie too? Also, the WMD debate is far from over as Iraqi documents are translated and released. But remember, WMD was far from the only reason we went into Iraq.

Freedom and security often come at a high price. Both US and Iraqi forces are paying that price. ALL of us Americans, and our new Iraqi friends, should be proud if the amazing things we are accomplishing together.
Posted By Anonymous Dave, Pittsburgh, PA : 2:01 PM ET
I'm not quite sure who actually participates in these polls. I know I haven't. To me the polls are meaningless, simply tools used by the media and Bush administration. Depending on who is doing them and what spin they want..........polls can say anything.

PS: Since the start of the war we have lost 2497 brave soliers and over 18,254 have "officially" been wounded. Unofficial estimates are well above 40,000.
Posted By Anonymous Jeanne, Bozeman Montana : 2:16 PM ET
It seems rather interesting as we discuss Iraq and the Bush administration that two high school kids in Northport, NY are in trouble for quotes they chose to put in their year book which seem to describe the whole philosophy that justified the invasion: Strength lies not in defense (Homeland Security), but in attack (fight them over there) and The great masses will believe the big lie (WMD) rather than a little one. The school principal is apologizing for 'failure'.

Actually, I think that producing students who think is a major plus, especially in the center of the culture of fear.

Not only can I find Iraq on the map, I can find a whole lot more. As a military mom, I can tell you that bombing the Z-man will not validate my son's service from the Gulf in the 80's to Somalia to Iraq. Pumping oil revenue into the economy, providing basic services and security while closing Gitmo is the only way to keep our national honor. If you can't send enough troops with a real plan, then get out. Peace and freedom is not cheap, nor is it hanging banners and waving flags. It takes a PLAN and commitment beyond the individuals who are sent on the mission.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista, ar : 2:20 PM ET
I can also find Iraq on a map, and I am a member of America's youth. 2 points for me, I suppose. So al-Zarqawi is dead. Hooray. Let Americans rejoice! .. until another head grows on the skull of Medusa. How long will this tirade in Iraq continue? While I agree that pulling the troops out now will make Iraq "S.O.L." the motivation for beginning this war (oil) has cost America too much in young men's blood. My brother will be on leave from his 2nd tour of duty as a medic this weekend. How unfair of our President whom we elected to send him back. Ask any soldier- they follow orders, they do their job, but they have NO idea why they are there. No Holocaust is present for them, no concentration camps, no Hitler. So, can someone tell them (and me) why they fight? The fight for power in the middle east has been ongoing for thousands of years. Why is it that America, brinking on hegemony, thinks we can stop the vicious cycle? A beacon of freedom and democracy can not pierce through a culture we do not understand, Mr. President. What are we fighting for?
Posted By Anonymous Danielle, Austin, TX : 2:21 PM ET
Zarqawis death has acomplished nothing against terrorism as a whole- just as Hitlers death didn't eradicate Anti-Semitism. Hate is not a cult or camp product, the methods employed are, but the hatred is underlying and impossible to outlaw.

"Is one dead terrorist worth the lives of over 2000 American soldiers?"
In one word...yes. It only took 11 to murder 3000 civilian Americans "

And it took one American (your pres) to cause the deaths of two thousand troops, and heaven only knows how many Iraqi citizens. Let alone the how many that are in secret jails, awaiting secret trials by secret panels without council of choice, family contact or a guarantee they won't be tortured. While the 'bug light' is a nice analogy, it's fallacious logic: why would terrorists, desperate to attack Americans, attack in Iraq where all of your weapons and soldiers are? It also assumes that terrorists attack and recruit from outside, which doesn't hold up to the evidence.

If terrorists want to attack Americans, they won't be flocking to Iraq for any reason- those troops aren't protecting your homeland, which is exactly where the most dangerous terrorists are. Those highjackers, Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber- they were all on US soil before and during their attacks. All known terrorist attacks (except Pearl Harbour) on American Soil came from within the borders, not from outside.

As for the 37% that don't believe the army would've killed innocent civilians, have they not heard of My Lai? The US Army does not have a clean record when it comes to targeting and malaciously killing innocents.
Posted By Anonymous Misty Stewart, Toronto Canada : 2:35 PM ET
While it would be nice to leave Iraq now or in the near future, it would make the deaths of over 2500 soldiers meaningless. Lets face it, if we pull out too early, then the fledgling Iraqi government could very possibly fall apart and then we would have wasted thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of taxpayers dollars. Remember that our main enemy is Al Quaida and we are slowly beating them down. Were there mistakes made in the war? Of course there was, but it is very easy for us to find them now after the fact. The question is would you find them ALL as you were facing the same situation without knowledge of the outcome! For people that are second guessing the Armed Forces and feel that our soldiers are committing human rights violations, just remember who the enemy is and how they have BUTCHERED innocent civilians for their cause and posted them all over. I don't hear you all condemning the terrorists or organizations that are backing them. Most of us have never seen actual combat, been shot at, have some of your best friends killed right in front of you. How would you all react in the same situation. Now add to that an 18-22 year old would has been trained to kill and has several emotions going through him. Our servicemen are all human just like us civilians are. The only difference is that they have training on how to kill other human beings.
Posted By Anonymous Pete, Akron, OH : 2:43 PM ET
When will the military- our whole government for that matter- finally understand that there will always be an al-Zarqawi? There is always someone more crazy than the last waiting in the wings.
Posted By Anonymous Krista- Cincinnati, Ohio : 2:45 PM ET
As a mother of a soldier currently deployed to Iraq, I find it distressing that a percentage of our population seems to believe that my son could be capable of war crimes just because he's a soldier. As a person in the percentage of the population whose see's the haunted and sad eyes of the child that she brought up to be moral and compassionate, I can believe that being expected to perform tasks and experiencing things that most of us will never have to or understand can make these men do things that they would not normally do in "civilian life". Once again we have people without a clue who feel that just because they oppose the war, they can tarnish the reputations of the brave men and women who are over there risking their lives for all of our freedom and democracy. If you would like a true perspective on any of this subject matter, you might want to speak to some veterans, I would value their opinions above all. Lets show some support for our troops, they deserve it. As for al-Zarqawi's death, I feel as if my son's "team" just won the championship, hopefully this means one less IED with possibly my sons name on it!
Posted By Anonymous Terry Flynn, Townsend, Ma. : 3:02 PM ET
"For people that are second guessing the Armed Forces and feel that our soldiers are committing human rights violations, just remember who the enemy is and how they have BUTCHERED innocent civilians for their cause and posted them all over."

Which enemy? Saddam, whose butchering was greatly aided, abetted and ignored by the US? Or terrorism, that enemy that doesn't claim any moral high ground. See, when the US chose to enter a preemptive war, they labelled themselves as the betters. Since insurgents aren't making any such claim to morality, we have no reason to expect them to act any different. They didn't start this, they are acting as defensive as they feel, and it's illogical to expect any different. The US Army, on the other hand, is supposed to be there to further democracy and the ideals of the West. Their actions are expected to be more moral, just and right. The actions and reactions of the enemy is not at debate here, but the actions of the instigators of peace-at-any-cost.

"As a mother of a soldier currently deployed to Iraq, I find it distressing that a percentage of our population seems to believe that my son could be capable of war crimes just because he's a soldier"

I don't believe that is what is implied at all. Of course not every soldier is guilty of war crimes, but it's harmful to suggest NO soldiers are guilty, just because they wear a uniform. I do have to admit though, I am baffled by the 'won the championship' comment- what exactly did anyone win?
Posted By Anonymous Misty, Toronto Canada : 3:28 PM ET
I love the logical fallacy of the idea that we need to allow more people to die meaninglessly so that past deaths can have meaning. Business that work this way lose their money; countries that think this way lose generations.
Posted By Anonymous Kay from Los Angeles : 4:21 PM ET
Not all of the people who take part in polls are morons. I can find all of those places on a map. Sadly, many of the people who cannot locate Iraq also have trouble locating Louisiana. I am part of the 55% that disagreed with the war from the beginning even though I am a former soldier. No matter what I felt about going in, we are there now. Do I think killing this man will make a difference? Yes I do. I also feel like we cannot just abandon the Iraqi people. I have friends over there now and the main thing they ask me is WHY does the media only show the negative. According to them there are good things being done there, but they see none of it on the news. Our soldiers are being asked to carry a huge burden, they are not police officers. Considering the environment they are operating in, I think they are doing a great job. Don't let the actions of a few tarnish the many.
Posted By Anonymous Melina - Mesa, AZ : 5:06 PM ET
I think to assume that the death of one man will lead to victory in Iraq would be a gross under estimation of the Islamic Jihad. These people are far more willing to sacrifice and die for their cause than we are for ours. Perhaps because their lives are already so difficult, one more sacrifice is nothing. Perhaps when you don't have much to live for, you're more willing to die.
At any rate, Americans would be foolish to let the death of Zarqawi change their mind about whether it was right to invade Iraq, our ability or inability to win the war, or their feelings about the Bush administration. If anything, this will just give the extremists one more recruiting tool, and one more reason to kill.
Posted By Anonymous Patty, Seattle, WA : 6:31 PM ET
A behind the scenes look at "Anderson Cooper 360°" and the stories it covers, written by Anderson Cooper and the show's correspondents and producers.

    What's this?
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.