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Majority losing faith in Operation Iraqi Freedom



Published: Wed, June 8, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The number of people who disapprove of the GOP's policies is rising steadily.

WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON -- For the first time since the war in Iraq began, more than half of the American public believes the fight there has not made the United States safer, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that Americans continue to rank Iraq second only to the economy in importance -- and that many are losing patience with the enterprise.

Nearly three quarters of Americans say the number of casualties in Iraq is unacceptable, while two-thirds say the U.S. military there is bogged down and nearly six in 10 say the war was not worth fighting -- in all three cases matching or exceeding the highest levels of pessimism yet recorded. More than four in 10 believe the U.S. presence in Iraq is becoming analogous to the experience in Vietnam.

Perhaps most ominous for President Bush, 52 percent said war in Iraq has not contributed to the long-term security of the United States, while 47 percent said it did. It was the first time a majority of Americans disagreed with the central notion Bush has offered to build support for war: that the fight there will make Americans safer from terrorists at home. In late 2003, 62 percent thought the Iraq war aided U.S. security, and just three months ago 52 percent thought so.

Overall, more than half -- 52 percent -- disapprove of how Bush is handling his job, the highest of his presidency. A somewhat larger majority -- 56 percent -- disapproved of Republicans in Congress and an identical proportion disapproved of Democrats.

There were signs, however, that Bush and Republicans in Congress were receiving more of the blame for the recent standoffs over such issues as Bush's judicial nominees and Social Security. Six in 10 respondents said Bush and GOP leaders are not making good progress on the nation's problems; of those, 67 percent blamed the president and Republicans while 13 percent blamed congressional Democrats. For the first time, a majority, 55 percent, also said Bush has done more to divide the country than to unite it.




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