Iraq Ten Years After — ‘Mistake’ Registering Slim Majority in Polls

Photograph by Hadi Mizban/AP Photo

People gather at the scene of a car bomb attack close to one of the main gates to the heavily-fortified Green Zone, which houses major government offices and the embassies of several countries, including the United States and Britain in Baghdad, Iraq, on March 19, 2013.

Ten years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, there is a striking similarity in two polls asking the same question.

Was it a mistake?

Fifty-four percent of Americans think the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq, according to the results of a poll conducted by CBS News and reported today, while 38 percent said taking military action against Tehran was the right thing to do. Many Americans voice skepticism about whether the mission in Iraq was successful — “accomplished,” as then President George W. Bush put it after the initial capture of the capital. Four in 10 think the U.S. succeeded in accomplishing its objectives, but more, 50 percent, say it did not.

This survey of 861 adults was conducted March 1-3, with a possible 3 percentage point margin of error.

It shows a significant shift over time from the 69 percent who told CBS’s pollster in March of 2003 that the U.S. had done the right thing.  Public support waned early in the war, with the public divided by 2004.

Still, opinion has mellowed somewhat — criticism for the conflict peaked in March 2008, when CBS polling found that 62 percent called the war a mistake.

Gallup polling has found pretty much the same thing — the numbers impressively similar: Fifty-three percent of Americans believe their country “made a mistake sending troops to fight in Iraq” and 42 percent say it was not a mistake, Gallup found in its March 7-10 survey.

“Although majorities or near-majorities have viewed the conflict as a mistake continuously since August 2005, the current 53 percent is down from the high point of 63 percent in April 2008, Gallup reported this week.

Its latest survey of 1,022 adults had a possible 4 percentage point margin of error.

The U.S. lost 4,486 military members in the war, and another 32,000 were wounded. Iraq Body Count, a London-based nonprofit, estimates that between 111,762 and 122,224 Iraqi civilians died in the violence touched off by the U.S.-led invasion, as we noted at Bloomberg by the Numbers today.

President Barack Obama withdrew combat forces in December 2011.

And today, as noted earlier today, dozens more died in car bombings around Baghdad aimed at destabilizing the government that the U.S. spent the better part of a decade attempting to stabilize.

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