For almost two years now, polls have continuously shown (.pdf) that a solid majority of Americans opposes the war in Iraq -- the signature policy of the Bush administration and its followers -- and believes it was a mistake. But a new analysis of Gallup poll data (to which John refers below) reveals that opposition to the war isn't just substantial, but is greater than it was for the Korean War, and roughly equal to the opposition Americans expressed towards the Vietnam War even as late as 1970:
An analysis released today by Frank Newport, director of The Gallup Poll, shows that current public wishes for U.S. policy in the Iraq war eerily echo attitudes about the Vietnam war in 1970.
The most recent Gallup poll this month found that 52% of adult Americans want to see all U.S. troops out of Iraq within a year, with 19% advocating immediate withdrawal. In the summer of 1970, Gallup found that 48% wanted a pullout within a year, with 23% embracing the “immediate” option. Just 7% want to send more troops now, vs. 10% then.
At present, 56% call the decision to invade Iraq a “mistake,” with 41% disagreeing. Again this echoes the view of the Vietnam war in 1970, when that exact same number, 56%, in May 1970 called it a mistake in a Gallup poll.
Polling data such as this conclusively demonstrates -- in a way that even the national media can no longer ignore -- just how dishonest and corrupt has been the favorite tactic of pro-war Bush followers: namely, to depict their pro-war views as "mainstream," while even more loudly characterizing truly mainstream anti-war views as being fringe, radical and anti-American.
Indeed, right-wing pundits such as Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds have spent the last several years misleadingly equating opposition to the war with being a fringe, radical leftist, while depicting pro-war views as a prerequisite to being considered in the mainstream. Or, as Reynolds put it when describing anti-war protestors: "They're not so much "antiwar" as just on the other side" and Ward Churchill is "the authentic face of the left."
(And just incidentally, but also quite revealingly, Reynolds' "credibility" -- to the extent such a thing still exists -- suffered some rather piercing and well-deserved blows again this weekend; if the mild-mannered Josh Marshall accuses someone of "being willfully dishonest and quite consciously lying" -- as Marshall quite justifiably accused Instapundit this weekend -- that's a pretty good sign that the person is lacking in the integrity department, to put it generously).
As Iraq falls more deeply into violence and chaos in ways that are incomparably damaging to American national security, it is well past time to hold those responsible for this disastrous war to account. And for truly embarrassing and quite destructive deceit about the war, how can anyone beat this ocean of falseness which spewed forth from Instapundit in April, 2003, the month following the U.S. invasion:
Yeah, there has been a lot of pro-war gloating. And I guess that Dawn Olsen's cautionary advice about gloating is appropriate. So maybe we shouldn't rub in just how wrong, and morally corrupt the antiwar case was. Maybe we should rise above the temptation to point out that claims of a "quagmire" were wrong -- again! -- how efforts at moral equivalence were obscenely wrong -- again! -- how the antiwar folks are still, far too often, trying to move the goalposts rather than admit their error -- again -- and how an awful lot of the very same people who spoke lugubriously about "civilian casualties" now seem almost disappointed that there weren't more -- again -- and how many people who spoke darkly about the Arab Street and citizens rising up against American "liberators" were proven wrong -- again -- as the liberators were seen as just that by the people they were liberating. And I suppose we shouldn't stress so much that the antiwar folks were really just defending the interests of French oil companies and Russian arms-deal creditors. It's probably a bad idea to keep rubbing that point in over and over again.
That is the mindset that has driving American foreign policy for the last five years. But, now, even leading advocates of the Iraq invasion seem to be casually accepting the inevitability of civil war and chaos in Iraq. What is there to say about those who made comments like this one from Instapundit, other than to ask: how can any political faction which was that spectacularly wrong about the most profound political event of the decade -- and which was so continuously dishonest about it along the way -- expect to be listened to on anything again?
Americans have come to accept that everything they were told about this war turned out to be false, and the consequences to America's interests are grave and immeasurable. And they know they were deceived and their trust betrayed along the way. But they want leadership on these issues, not passive, reluctant opposition. If Democrats make the choice to be aggressive and unified in making this case, Americans are plainly ready to punish those who are responsible for this disaster.