Americans turn against Bush and a war on Iraq that is getting nowhere

By Andrew Gumbel
09 June 2005

Most Americans no longer believe the war in Iraq has made their country safer, and more than 60 per cent of the country believes the military is bogged down in a conflict that was not worth fighting in the first place, according to a new opinion poll offering only bad news to the Bush administration.

The poll for The Washington Post and ABC News poll, published yesterday, was the first survey in which a majority of Americans rejected the White House's argument that invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein was good for domestic security. The poll also suggested that opinions were almost exactly evenly divided between those with a positive impression of President Bush's "war on terror" and those it viewed it negatively.

The findings were particularly stunning, since security was among the leading issues on which Mr Bush won re-election last November. At that time, his approval ratings on anti-terrorism policy were roughly 60-40.

The poll also reflects a broader dissatisfaction with the second Bush administration. Almost every issue on which the White House has focused in recent months - social security reform, salvaging its most extreme judicial nominations, agitating to keep the comatose Terri Schiavo alive against the wishes of her husband - has proved unpopular. If Mr Bush's ratings on the terrorism question have fallen, it is in part because he has barely mentioned the topic. The Iraq findings were the most striking, because the public has clearly rejected the line put out by President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney that the US is turning the corner and that the insurgency is in its last throes. Almost 900 Iraqis and Americans have been killed in the past six weeks. Iraq's oil pipeline to Turkey was hit by a new sabotage attack yesterday.

The Downing Street memo about an early decision having been taken to go to war and of the need for justification to be found for the Iraq invasion, is unlikely to have played much role as it has been given little prominence in mainstream US reporting.

But despite the findings of the survey, President Bush can draw some consolation. While he and his party are growing ever more unpopular, the Democratic Party's ratings are equally dismal.