Spinning the War — Still
Oops! Seems like support for the war in Iraq is starting to slip. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll shows that public support for the war is now at 56 percent. In April, 73 percent believed it was worth it to go to war in Iraq, while 23 percent thought it was not.
The current support for the war is just about where it was in early January (53 percent) when the White House was making its case for the campaign.
(Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,003 national adults, aged 18+, conducted June 27-29, 2003. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the margin of sampling error is 3 percentage points.)
As for the weapons of mass destruction, while 52 percent were “very confident” in March that weapons would be found, today, only 22 percent are “very confident” now. Perhaps most significantly, the reports that Americans don’t care that President Bush may have lied about WMD aren’t true. Three-quarters of the population says it matters either a “great deal” (53 percent) or a “moderate amount” (22 percent”) whether Bush lied about the Iraqi arsenal.
Gallup notes that the public’s mood is still more positive than negative, but it’s impossible to ignore the slumping numbers. And it’s also impossible to ignore that the number of people who believe Bush actually _lied_ about the WMD rose from 31 percent “earlier in June” to 37 percent now. What’s curious is why CNN buried that news (and even called it a “little difference”) 17 paragraphs down in its story. Hey, CNN: a 6 point movement in a month on an issue revolving around the chief executive’s honesty is a *big deal.*
Also of note: Fewer than half (48 percent) are confident that the U.S. will capture or kill Saddam Hussein; 49 percent are not confident.
Getting more granular, Gallup asked the 408 adults who thought the war wasn’t worth it an open-ended question about why they felt that way. Fully 24 percent of them said “Fraudulent claims/no weapons of mass destruction/lied to the people about them” were the reason(s) for their discontent. Another 24 percent said that “Nothing has been resolved in Iraq/waste of human lives.”
Turning to the war’s supporters, 51 percent of those cited the need for security (30 percent said it was because of the need to “Protect the nation/stop the threat to world security”; 13 percent to stop terrorism and 8 percent to prevent the proliferation of WMD.) Forty-five percent were less concerned with security (27 percent felt it was the need to remove Saddam from power and 18 percent felt it was to free the Iraqi people.) The 8 percent of the war’s supporters who mentioned WMD as the primary reason indicates that it wasn’t a big deal to the supporters — and it probably still isn’t.
While the public becomes more and more skeptical, SecDef Donald Rumsfeld grows more and more snippy. Rumsfeld yesterday wrangled with reporters over the terms “guerrilla war” and “quagmire,” and said reporters had _still_ not gotten over Vietnam.
“There are so many cartoons where press people are saying ‘Is it Vietnam yet?’ hoping it is, and wondering if it is, and it isn’t,” Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon. “It’s a different time, it’s a different era, it’s a different place.”
He then went on to blame remnants of the Ba’ath Party, looters, released criminals and “foreign terrorists.” (Boo!)
“We are dealing with those remnants in a forceful fashion, just as we have had to deal with the remnants of Al Qa’ida and Taliban in Afghanistan and tribal areas near Pakistan.”
Ho, ho! Truer words than he may realize, since the U.S. is apparently negotiating with the Taliban. War makes strange bedfellows after all…
Anyway, Rumsfeld’s force assessment is no doubt partially correct. But he’s forgetting (or ignoring) the Iraqi civilians miffed as all get out at the American occupiers. But guerilla war? Perish the thought!
To characterize the attacks as a guerrilla war would be “a misunderstanding and a miscommunication to you and to the people of the country and the world,” [Rumsfeld] said.
“[Hostile forces] are all slightly different in why they are there and what they are doing. That doesn’t make it anything like a guerrilla war or an organized resistance,” he said. “It makes it like five different things going on that are functioning much more like terrorists.”
Boo!, again. Of course they’re terrorists. In the Good Guy-Bad Guy world of the White House and the Pentagon, any hostile force that doesn’t assemble in large armored formations on a featureless plain while wearing “Shoot Me” uniforms is, by definition, “terrorist.”
Well, one man’s guerilla fighter is another man’s terrorist, I suppose.