Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Do Americans suddenly smell victory in Iraq?

There's a new USA TODAY/Gallup poll showing that 65 percent of Americans think the U.S. military surge in Iraq has not made any positive difference or has made matters worse, and that two-thirds of respondents want U.S. troops withdrawn by next April 1, and that 57 percent think the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a mistake to begin with.

You'd think those numbers would be discouraging to the die-hard war hawks, wouldn't you? Well, that's not necessarily the case. Some of them, in fact, are so delighted that the military surge is slightly more popular in this poll than in the last one that they're willing to hail the survey results as a massive sea-change in public opinion.

This blogger, for example, says Americans "don't want to leave Iraq because they know leaving Iraq--no matter how it is dressed up by Democrats--is defeat." Never mind that the poll shows that two of every three Americans do, in fact, want to leave Iraq.

This guy says the surge is "gaining support...and now Gallup is showing movement towards finishing the job."

Finishing the job? Buddy, you've been watching too many John Wayne movies. It's not a simple matter of macho bluster. The job is far from being finished, perhaps impossibly far.

Just the other day, Admiral Mike Mullen, President Bush's nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, painted a less than rosy picture of the situation in Iraq in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mullen said the Iraqi government has not made much progress toward the political settlement of differences between the Shiite Muslim majority and the Sunni minority. He said that without such a settlement, victory in Iraq is impossible, no matter how many troops we send there or how they long they stay.

Mullen also said the surge can't be sustained beyond April of next year, given current strains on personnel resources.

Since the admiral made those remarks, six Sunni cabinet ministers have said they'll boycott future meetings of the Iraqi government, thereby deepening the country's political crisis.

Meanwhile, four more U.S. troops have been killed, raising to 19 the death toll among Americans in the first six days of August. Iraq's power grid is on the brink of collapse. Violent Shiite militias are filling the void in southern Iraq created by the pullout of British troops. And 60 decomposing bodies were discovered Monday in a mostly Sunni area near Baquoba.

Still, some of the war hawks misread the polls and conclude that Americans suddenly can sense that victory in Iraq is just around the corner.

Sure it is. We just have to be willing to sacrifice more of our sons and daughters for the cause.

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