Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A not so subtle distinction

A new NYT/CBS poll shows a shift in opinion on Iraq War.
Americans increasingly see the war in Iraq as distinct from the fight against terrorism, and nearly half believe President Bush has focused too much on Iraq to the exclusion of other threats, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll found that 51 percent of those surveyed saw no link between the war in Iraq and the broader antiterrorism effort, a jump of 10 percentage points since June. That increase comes despite the regular insistence of Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans that the two are intertwined and should be seen as complementary elements of a strategy to prevent domestic terrorism.

Should the trend hold, the rising skepticism could present a political obstacle for Mr. Bush and his allies on Capitol Hill, who are making their record on terrorism a central element of the midterm election campaign. The Republicans hope that by expressing a desire for forceful action against terrorists, they can offset unease with the Iraq war and blunt the political appeal of Democratic calls to establish a timeline to withdraw American troops.

The Iraq Occupation is more clearly seen for what it is, which is an occupation. The war in Iraq ended no later than the capture of Saddam Hussein. Despite a popularly ratified constitution and a duly elected government, Iraq has evolved into a country where factions fight a war of all against all. US troop presence within the country provides a lightning rod and spark for these conflicts. The small number of al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq draw their support from the enmity created by the occupying US force.

Meanwhile the profiles of terrorists grows sharper. They are not the kind of folks who can be deterred by large military force occupying a country. In fact, the recent arrests in Britain show that terrorists can be apprehended by traditional legal means that protect the traditional rights of citizens.

Republicans have made no secret that they are campaigning on the 'war on terror' platform that brought them success in 2004. However, campaign speeches cannot drown out the dreary and incessant news each day coming from Iraq. Americans support the troops, but they do not want their sons or daughters to be troops in these times of failed foreign policy.

The Republican Party conflates anti-terrorist activities with the Iraq Occupation. This is partly a cynical move on their part to get reelected. This most recent opinion poll indicates that fewer fish are biting on that bait. The far right would paint the Iraq Occupation skeptics as manipulated by the media or defeatist cowards. The problem is that these are the same people who bought into the Bush war on terror concept in the first place, but have since changed their minds.

What are people in these opinion polls really saying?: we have tried the Republican way for five years and things are worse rather than better. Democrats in Congress have drawn strength from public perception of the evidence against the Iraq Occupation. However, they have unfortunately too often participated in the same activities as their Republican opponents.

The pressure will be on the Democratic Party next year should they recapture a majority in Congress. The majority of Americans are no longer confused about terrorism and the Iraq Occupation, and with the rising death tolls for no purpose, they certainly are not amused.


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