‘Let’s Stay in Iraq … for a Month’

A remarkable human-in-the-street story in The New York Times on Wednesday about how the American public feels about the war. The story cites another poll that illustrates doubts about what the whole thing is about: This time, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that shows 47 percent of respondents feel the war is going worse than it was a year ago, 32 percent think it’s about the same, and 20 percent think it’s going better than it was then. Those 20 percent must be on antidepressants.

The article is full of quotes from people who mostly sound resigned to the thing just dragging on the way it is now. One guy, identified as a cotton farmer in Texas, opines that opinion polls and public debate about the war are aiding and abetting the enemy. Not a single person comes out and says that they thought the war was a good idea to begin with. Most striking to me was one woman, a U.S. Army civilian employee in Virginia, who is quoted as saying she supports the troops’ presence in Iraq now and backs Bush’s plan. But look at the way she qualifies her support:

” ‘I think we should stay through the elections. I support the president’s plan up to there. But if we’re going to focus on Iraq without support of other nations, I see the violence increasing. I can’t see a democratic Iraq. So what are we doing there?’ ”

This is another way of saying, “I can stand for this for another five weeks.” How many people like this are out there, both conflicted and just about at the end of their rope?

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