Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Polls on Iraq

Here are some polls on our Iraq policy. An overwhelming majority of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of the war. They also think the war was a mistake that has made us less safe. They don’t think the president has a plan; they’re even more certain Congress doesn’t. They think our government as a whole is pretty clueless on what to do now. There’s little support for immediate withdrawal, but a majority do favor gradual withdrawal by a certain date. The Americans who elected the Democratic Congress did in full knowledge that the result would probably be gradual withdrawal as the culmination of a stalemate. What they don’t want is an indefinite stalemate.

People want or wanted to win in Iraq, don’t think we’re toast if we don’t, and no longer have confidence that we can. Maybe the president can turn that skepticism around some through inspiring confidence in his new plan. But the surge remains high-risk in the sense that it may create a new and maybe unrealistic expectation for quick and dramatic results.

I’m reporting all this as a social scientist, and I wouldn’t suggest for a moment that the president should abandon his admirable indifference to polling in the conduct of foreign policy.
But time is not the president’s friend here, and that may be, of course, a defect of democracy.

Discussions - 3 Comments

The American people will tolerate a "surge" if it is serious and if it is accompanied by smarter policy, including much more killing of the enemy. The American people will also tolerate a gradual bugout. The Democratic Congress, it appears, will insist on a gradual bugout. As long as it’s gradual, they will not suffer politically for it. I wish Bush, Petraeus, and our men the best. But I think we’re in Hail Mary territory here.

Precisely! If I had any confidence that a surge would result in anything like a positive outcome, I’d be cheering for it. I’ve always been against this war but I’m not against winning it.

By the way, I can’t help but wonder, with the recent resignation of certain generals, if Bush claims he listens to them so that he’ll know who disagrees with him enough to fire them?

Daniel K., could you please elaborate on this one:

"I’ve always been against this war but I’m not against winning it."

That just seems to be bursting at the seams with contradiction(s). Yes, I did read the previous sentences in your comment, but still, it seems that you’re operating on the assumption that there is one, clear, universally agree-upon definition of "winning" for the current war in Iraq. I doubt it.

I know this thread’s a few days old, but I thought I’d inquire, in case you might see this...

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