Bush's Reasons For Staying In Iraq Not Getting Traction

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
USA Today
May 9, 2007
Pg. 1

Poll: Troops not the key factor in avoiding civil war
By Susan Page and William Risser, USA Today
WASHINGTON — Most Americans don't believe that the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is the key to preventing a full-scale civil war there or protecting the United States from new terrorist attacks, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.
The results of the poll, taken Friday through Sunday, underscore the limited traction the Bush administration's arguments have gotten as White House officials and congressional Democrats negotiate an interim bill to finance the war.
Amid broad pessimism about what's ahead for Iraq and the region, one-third of those surveyed would be bothered "a great deal" if the United States is seen as losing the war. One in four would be bothered "not at all."
"We lost the war when we went there," says Judy Champion, 58, a nurse from Indianapolis who was among those surveyed. "I don't think there is a 'win' situation there. Every time we lose another soldier, it's just more loss."
Six in 10 support setting a timetable for withdrawal and sticking to it regardless of what's happening in Iraq; 36% say the United States should keep troops in Iraq until the situation there improves.
A timetable "limits us while providing the enemy with a timeline for their strategy," says Rodney Neifer, 39, of Lumber Bridge, N.C. The Iraq veteran, a member of the Army's Special Forces, also was polled. "Civil war, ethnic cleansing and … focusing their interests abroad — those are not acceptable trade-offs."
Many Americans expect things to get worse in Iraq and the region in any case.
•If U.S. troops withdraw next year, 68% predict a civil war in Iraq, 66% the use of Iraq as an al-Qaeda base and 55% new terrorist attacks on the United States.
•If U.S. troops remain, 47% predict a civil war in Iraq, 47% the use of Iraq as an al-Qaeda base and 51% new terrorist attacks on the United States.
Only 22% of Americans accept the administration's argument that U.S. forces in Iraq are preventing new terrorist attacks on the United States; 17% say the troop presence is making those attacks more likely. Another 58% say the U.S. deployment doesn't affect it either way.
A third of Americans accept the administration's argument the U.S. deployment would prevent a civil war. Half say a civil war will or won't happen regardless of the troop presence. One in 10 say the forces make civil war more likely.
Last week, President Bush vetoed a $124 billion Iraq war funding bill because it included a timetable to withdraw combat forces by the end of next March. Under discussion as a compromise: setting benchmarks for the Iraqi government.
In the poll, three in four Americans support benchmarks that Iraq would have to meet to continue receiving economic and military assistance.
At the White House, spokeswoman Dana Perino warned of dire consequences if U.S. troops leave before Iraq is stable, including "the likely collapse of the fragile young Iraqi democracy, the killing of countless innocent civilians, and a safe haven for al-Qaeda" attacks aimed at Americans and others.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon alerted more than 35,000 Army soldiers that they could be sent to Iraq this fall.
The deployment orders signed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates could allow the United States to maintain a buildup of troops through the end of the year.