A majority of Americans no longer see a link between the war in Iraq and Washington's broader anti-terrorism efforts despite President George W. Bush's insistence the two are intertwined, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released on Tuesday.
Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said the war in Iraq was separate from the U.S. government's war on terrorism. The findings were a considerable shift from polls taken in 2002 and early 2003, when a majority considered the two to be linked, The New York Times said.
As recently as June, opinion was evenly split, with 41 percent on both sides of the divide. Now only 32 percent considered Iraq to be a major part of the fight against terrorism, the newspaper said.
According to the poll, 46 percent said the Bush administration had concentrated too heavily on Iraq and not enough on terrorists elsewhere. Fifty-three percent said going to war in the first place was a mistake, up from 48 percent in July, The New York Times said.
Bush's approval ratings remained unchanged at 36 percent. His popularity has been damaged by the unpopular war in Iraq, in which the U.S. military death toll is 2,610.
I posted earlier about polling on the Iraq war and quoted pollster John Zogby as saying, "President Bush’s numbers mainly reflect the country’s thinking on the war in Iraq, and most people have made up their minds that the war overall has not been worth the loss of American lives. Terrorism is an important issue to Americans, but when it comes to judging Bush’s presidency, their decision is based largely on Iraq."
It doesn't help his own cause that the President got off message at a recent press conference. TruthDig has the transcript of Bush's admission that Iraq and 9/11 are two different things.
QUESTION: A lot of the consequences you mentioned for pulling out seem like maybe they never would have been there if we hadn’t gone in. How do you square all of that?
BUSH: I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi.
You know, I’ve heard this theory about, you know, everything was just fine until we arrived [in Iraq] and — you know, the stir-up-the-hornet’s-nest theory. It just doesn’t hold water, as far as I’m concerned.
The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East. They were …
QUESTION: What did Iraqi have to do with that?
BUSH: What did Iraq have to do with what?
QUESTION: The attacks upon the World Trade Center.
BUSH: Nothing. . . . .Except for it’s part of — and nobody’s ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a — Iraq — the lesson of September the 11th is: Take threats before they fully materialize…
Never mind that Cheney was telling everyone who would listen that Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda were practically the same thing. When anyone from the Bush administration gets behind a microphone, we pretty much expect bullshit. Bush himself is no exception.
It's that last line that bothers me -- as I say, lies are pretty much a given. "The lesson of September the 11th is: Take threats before they fully materialize," seems pretty close to the Project for a New American Century's Statement of Principles; a letter the original neocons wrote to Bill Clinton.
Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.
The thing is, these idiots apparently haven't learned the lessons of their own mistakes. That Bush nearly quoted the PNAC document shows that people still talk this way in the administration. Iraq's a freakin' disaster, it's become a training ground for terrorists. I think it's pretty much inarguable that 'meeting the threat' of Iraq 'before it emerged' didn't do us any damned good at all. Yet, here's Bush saying that this is the best possible strategy, despite all evidence.
And that's why the Bush administration's still pushing a link between Iraq and terrorism. This war has to work or the neocon utopians will have been wrong. They had a vision of a beautiful, democratic middle east and that dream can't be allowed to die. And, while it's hard to argue that a democratic middle east wouldn't be a good thing, it's damned easy to argue that it ain't gonna happen because of anything we do in Iraq.
Polls show that concern over terrorism and opposition to the war in Iraq are the two major issues on voters' minds. The GOP figures that, if they can get people to believe that Iraq is fighting terrorism, they can scare those anti-war folks back on board.
It's pretty much too late for that.
Technorati tags: politics; Bush; republican; polls; the Project for a New American Century should've told us that the war in Iraq would be a project that would take an entire american century.