54% of Americans Support Obama on Iraq
by Deacon Blues
Remember one thing as the media coverage of events in Iraq continues over the coming weeks: the media as much as anyone else was a cheerleader for the disastrous Iraq invasion back in 2003. Yes, the Cheney-led neocons are directly responsible for that infamous dark spot on American history, and yes they are also responsible for what is happening now. But the media was right there with them, being led by the nose with very few contrary noises except from the likes of the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus and others. So when you see the fixation upon Iraq and obsession with whatever the neocons now say, remember that the media discredits itself once again.
As for what the truth is, the American public, Republicans and independents included, support Obama’s cautious approach over anything John McCain, Lindsey Graham, or Fox News is selling, by large margins.
Only 20% of Americans think that the renewed fighting in Iraq is due to the United States withdrawing troops from the country before the job was done, whereas 67% think it’s more rooted in centuries of internal conflict that was exacerbated by the US invasion during the Bush administration.
Only 16% of Americans would support sending combat troops to help deal with the crisis in Iraq, compared to 74% who are opposed. There’s a bipartisan consensus on that issue with with Republicans (28/57), Democrats (10/86), and independents (9/86) all strongly opposed to sending combat troops.
Asked specifically whose vision they agreed with more about having US troops in Iraq between Obama (no troops under any circumstances) and John McCain (troops should have remained in Iraq after 2011), voters side with Obama by a 54/28 spread. In addition to Democrats strongly siding with Obama’s perspective, independents (53/28) and Republicans (49/30) do as well.
It is also important not to overemphasize what ISIS has accomplished so far. Yes, they’ve captured a large amount of territory and are making noises about marching south into Baghdad and the Shia holy areas. But they’ve captured Sunni territory and forced al-Maliki’s Shia-led soldiers from Sunni areas, and not from Shia areas. Plus, the Anbar province Sunnis haven’t joined up with ISIS yet, and with every passing day that ISIS conducts itself as a terrorist group and not a true response to Shia overreach, the more unlikely it is that this will become a broad-based threat to the whole of Iraq. Iraq is in this mess for two reasons: Maliki’s handling of the military and rejection of any legitimate Sunni opposition; and because Obama failed to address Syria early enough.
If the United States focused its efforts on working with regional players to seal off ISIS’s supply lines across the Iraq/Syria border and secure the Kurds in their safe areas, and focused attention on the need for a transition that accommodated moderate Sunnis and allowed for the resurrection of a Sunni army modeled on the successful Awakening Councils of 2007-2008 that fought Al Qaeda, then we’ve done our job. If McCain, Graham, and the rest of the war cheerleaders demand more, then Obama should ask loudly why these warriors demand immediate action when it comes to war but can’t be bothered to pass a jobs bill.