WASHINGTON—Following the latest surge of violence in Iraq, a Pew Research Center poll released Monday has found that a substantial majority of Americans now believe the continuing bloodshed in the country almost makes it seem as if the 2003 U.S. invasion might have actually been somewhat pointless.
Approximately 83 percent of Americans surveyed said recent incidents such as a car bomb explosion that killed 40 in the city of Kut, the executions of seven worshippers outside a mosque in Youssifiyah, and a series of other attacks that have left scores of Iraqis dead and wounded were the kinds of events that, if they didn't know better, might make them think the lengthy occupation really wasn't worth it in the slightest.
Forty-three percent of Americans said if someone wanted to, they could very nearly make the assessment, based on current conditions on the ground, that perhaps the United States wasted valuable resources on an unwinnable, nearly impossible endeavor.
"If I didn't have the full story of how and why we got into Iraq, I could see how the continuing violence might, possibly, make the whole war seem almost misguided or something," Atlanta resident Arnold Grover said. "You read about terrorists dressed as police officers gunning down men at a recruiting station and catch yourself wondering for a moment if maybe, just maybe, we might have actually made a terrible decision that just made a bad situation worse and squandered the international goodwill we enjoyed after 9/11."
"I'm just saying that one could think that" Grover added. "I don't. But, just taking a step back and looking at the broader picture of how Iraq is today versus how it was before we invaded, I can see how one could come to that conclusion."
A majority of Americans also agreed that the spate of roadside bombs, suicide attacks, and ethnic murders might—and this is just an opinion, they claimed, which may or may not actually hold water—cause one to deduce that the federal government had sacrificed 4,500 troops, not to mention more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians, in a campaign that ultimately, perhaps, proved ruinous for both nations.
"Sure, through the narrow prism of the violence that has resulted, I guess it'd be possible to conclude we accomplished nothing and threw away a staggering number of human lives as well as trillions of dollars for no real reason," Boise, ID resident Tricia Booth said. "This latest carnage almost makes it seem as if this war were something we shortsightedly got ourselves into and were woefully underprepared to conduct. Fortunately, I have the benefit of all the facts."
In response to the poll, officials who helped orchestrate the war told reporters they understood why people might momentarily pause in their support for the effort.
"With all the chaos, it's understandable that Americans were on the cusp of thinking no amount of money or military force could ever have stabilized a region so unmanageably volatile and dangerous to begin with," said retired U.S. general Tommy Franks, who led Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. "I'm honestly not at all surprised that so many people were briefly tempted to challenge the moral underpinning of the war, as well as its execution."
"But that's why it helps to have the big picture," Franks added. "It really puts everything into perspective. Right?"
Even former president George W. Bush, who launched the Iraq War and presided over much of the subsequent occupation, told reporters he understood how the recent violence in the region could almost cause Americans to regret the military involvement, and much else besides.
"I see where these folks are coming from," Bush said. "I bet a lot of them came this close to wishing I'd never been president, too."