Iraq Deaths Estimator

Live Blog


Confronting Venezuela
Jeremy Bigwood and James S. Henry
| Main |
One Week in Iraq's Worth, No Less!
James S. Henry and Andrew D. Hellman

Monday, June 13, 2005

"Earth to Ms. Clinton - There's A War On!"
...And Most Americans Want An Exit Plan!

Splashtop(Note to readers:  The US anti-war movement is picking up steam. This week, four US Congressman -- two Democrats and two Republicans -- introduced the first resolution demanding a definite time for a withdrawal, and the UK announced that it will begin transferring  its 9000 troops in Iraq to Afghanistan over the next 18 months, following in Italy's footsteps.  As discussed below, recent opinion polls shows that sixty percent of Americans want at least some troops withdrawn now. 

Meanwhile, diehard supporters of the War,   like
the New York Times' Thomas Friedman, are getting nervous and somewhat desperate. This week, in the face of the opinion polls and the UK withdraw,  Friedman proposed  doublling the number of US troops in Vietnam...oops, Iraq. Many of us still recall Friedman's candid April 2003 interview with the leading Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz:

"This  is not a war that the masses wanted. This is a war of an elite,  I could give you the names of 25 people, all of whom sit without a 5-block radius of my Washington, D.C. office, who, if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and a half ago, the Iraq War would not have happened." (T.Friedman, interview,  Ha'aretz, April 5, 2003).  

This time around we will listen to this special-interest driven "elite" no more.

Late last month we received a curious fund-raising letter from a New York-based organization called "the Friends of Hillary," disguised as an opinion poll. We're not registered Democrats or Republicans, and often receive and discard similar solicitations from both parties, marveling at their persistence. But this one struck us as especially odd and ineffectual,  even if it had given a jot about the recipient's actual opinion, which is doubtful.

It started off by asking us to "rank the following issues in order of their importance,"  and then gave the following closed-ended list:

"Economy/Jobs," "Environment," "Social Security/Medicare," "Education," "Homeland Security," "Health Care," "Tax Cuts," "Reproductive Rights," "Separation of Church and State."

Now of course all these are more or less important,  but they are at best topics,  not "issues."  One hopes that this confusion does not reflect some deeper unreadiness on the part of Hillary and her friends to articulate specific policy alternatives.

Most of them are also so-called "bread and butter issues," a Democratic mainstay.  This is as if Hilary & Co. have learned nothing from the last two elections:  millions of middle-class Americans have in fact  been willing to support candidates who are diametrically opposed to their own "bread and butter" interests,  on matters like tax cuts, health care, and Social Security -- so long as they perceive that these candidates take a principled stand on something they do care about. 

091604allaskThat's not what really bothered us about Hillary's pseudo-poll, however.   After all, Senator Clinton is a lifelong "policy wonk," who could probably wax eloquent for hours on any one of these policy arenas, unscripted....whoohhhhh! 

Rather, the really annoying, patronizing thing about Hillary's poll was the fact that one of the most important current issues of all, the fiasco in Iraq and what to do about it,  did not even reach the start gate.

That is especially puzzling,  because the latest US public opinion polls show not only that President Bush's popularity is on the ropes,  but also that American support for the Iraq War is falling like a rock -- virtually to European levels.

According to the latest Gallup Poll, for  example, almost six in ten Americans now say the  US should withdraw some or all of its troops;  58 percent say the war "wasn't worth it;" 31  percent want some troops withdrawn now; 28 percent want all troops withdrawn immediately; and only 36 percent support maintaining or increasing US forces in Iraq.

What's most interesting about this poll is that while opposition to the war has commanded a majority for some time, genuine support for it has stayed in the "upper 40s" range -- but now it is collapsing.  That indicates the even some Bush loyalists must be taking another look.

Furthermore, a closer look at the 42 percent who still believe that the war was somehow  "worth it" reveals that this poll was really a kind of intelligence test -- since over half of these folks still believe that the War had  something to do with September 11th (9/42)  protecting the US,  showing that the world "cannot mess with the US," or finding WMDs (!) 

Fewer than 20 out of every 100 Americans buy the frayed Administration line that our presence in Iraq is about "exporting democracy to the Middle  East" -- at least with respect to that justification, most Americans now recognize a used car salesman when they see one.

Pr050613i_3Most of these results echo a ABC/Washington Post poll last week, which found that 65 percent of Americans thought the US was "bogged down" in Iraq, while 73 percent thought that US casualty levels -- now more than 1703 dead and 12855 wounded and counting -- are "unacceptable;" 52 percent thought that the War has not contributed to US security

Two out of three Americans correctly preceive that President Bush does not have a clear plan for ending the war, while 45 percent fear that we are "heading for the same kind of involvement in Iraq as in Vietnam. " Just 41 percent approve of the way President Bush has been handling Iraq -- presumably the same crowd that still thinks the invasion was about 9/11.   

Several other recent opinion polls have also found very similar trends.

In the wake of all this mounting evidence for the War's unpopularity,  as well as rising US and Coalition casualty levels and all the other recent setbacks on the ground in Iraq, even some Republican Congressmen have called for  President Bush to set a firm timetable for the withdrawal of US troops.

IraqusgoneSo far, however,  no leading Democrats have followed suit. Indeed, the hapless Democratic Party, riven by special interests and virtually devoid of courageous, thoughtful leadership,  has so far not been able to profit one iota from President Bush's shrinking popularity. Its own popularity also tied an historic low in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll. 

Perhaps this should not surprise us. After all, almost all Congressional Democrats, including Hillary, took the "safe" road politically and naively followed President Bush into Iraq, voting for all his proposals on the War.

Most likely  they are now trying to take the safe road again, waiting for this  lame duck President to do the right thing and change course.  Of course that kind of midcourse correction has never been his style -- he is nothing if not "linear."      

Meanwhile, deserted by their mainstream political leaders, ordinary Americans have been  left to "vote with their feet" -- another striking resemblance to the Vietnam War era.

1 Despite offering record incentives, US Army recruiters have now missed their goals for four months in a row, and are accepting record levels of sub-high school graduate recruits to make up the difference.

If that particular trend continues,  the Iraq War could soon come to resemble Vietnam in even more unpleasant ways.

If this leadership void continues, and no top Democrat or Republican emerges to take a principled stand against the war,  we should be prepared  to take it to the streets one more time -- and show our support for the troops by demanding their return home from this senseless, costly, bloodthirsty, interminable conflict. 

(c) SubmergingMarkets.Com, 2005.



June 13, 2005 at 09:29 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference

"Earth to Ms. Clinton - There's A War On!"
...And Most Americans Want An Exit Plan!


i'm a huge hillary fan, but i have to admit, i'm puzzled that she hasn't spoken out either. americans want this war to go better/end. the first person who gets credit for speaking up and saying so in a major way gets massive approval from americans.

to make matters worse, there was a bill in the house demanding an exit strategy, and a lot of democrats voted against it (i know that you know hillary's in the senate, not the house, but if anyone else reads this, hillary did not get to vote on it).

democrats are becoming less complete sellouts to whatever the republicans want -- some of them are showing incredible backbone. but the job's not done.

Posted by: Jami at Jul 1, 2005 4:51:02 PM