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Monday, November 21, 2005

The unpopularity of Bush's war

Wars are almost always initially popular. Public support for the President typically increases when wars began.

However, the longer the US is at war, as casualties mount, the popularity of war declines -- as does presidential popularity.

In March 2003, only 25% of the public thought that the Iraq war was a mistake.

By October 2003, that figure was 40%.

By June 2004, 54% thought the war was a mistake. That figure hasn't really budged and may be creeping up. It is unlikely that the public will change its mind. An article by Linda Feldmann in today's Christian Science Monitor notes the implications for US policy:
analysts say, once someone loses confidence in the conduct of a war, it is exceedingly difficult to woo them back.

Pollster Daniel Yankelovich, writing in the September/October 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, states that "in my judgment the Bush administration has about a year before the public's impatience will force it to change course."
John Mueller of Ohio State refers to an emerging "Iraq syndrome," which I discussed here more than a year ago.
The just-released quadrennial survey of American attitudes toward foreign policy - produced jointly by the Pew Research Center and the Council on Foreign Relations - shows a revival of isolationism. Now, 42 percent of Americans say the US should "mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own" - up from 30 percent in 2002.

According to Pew Research Center director Andrew Kohut, that 42 percent figure is also similar to how the US public felt in the mid-1970s, at the end of the Vietnam War, and in the 1990s, at the end of the cold war.
So, again, more evidence that the current president has weakened American national security.

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