Changing Times in Baghdad: The American Public’s View

by Clifford D. May

The Financial Times reports:

US public opinion on military progress in Iraq has improved sharply since the troops “surge” started in February … 

Some 48 per cent of Americans now believe that the US ­military effort in Iraq is going well, compared with 30 per cent in February, according to the latest poll by the Pew Research Center.

But the poll also finds that this shift has not translated into increased “support for maintaining U.S. forces in Iraq.” In other words, what too many have yet to grasp is that when the U.S. loses a war, we leave lock, stock and barrel (e.g. Vietnam) but when we win, (or at least don’t lose) we remain to support our alliies (e.g. Bosnia, South Korea, Japan and Germany).

I’d argue it’s time to get out of Germany and Japan but that Iraq is in a dangerous neighborhood and will require some assistance over the years ahead. This is not a favor. The U.S. has a vital national security interest in Iraq. Bush and Rice and others need to begin to explain that clearly and persuasively.