Is the Iraq War Worth the Loss of U.S. Lives? Survey Says…

|

…no, with 58 percent of respondents in a new Zogby poll saying the war is not worth the loss of American lives. Broken down along partisan lines, one-third of Republicans say it's not worth it, three-quarters of Dems say it isn't, and two-third of independents say no.

In other findings, 80 percent of Americans would consent to video surveillance of public places "if it meant increased protection from terrrorist acts." Only about one-third of Americans would consent to their mail being searched of phone conversations listened in to at random (not that what we think matters). About half of Americans overall–and two-thirds of Republicans–believe there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks.

Zogby's spin re: the midterm elections:

"Most Republicans said it was right for the U.S. to expand the war on terrorism by attacking Iraq, that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terror attacks, and that they believe the government should have the right to conduct searches of personal property and telephone conversations to find terrorists. Most Democrats disagree on every point.

"If I were advising Democrats, I would tell them to energize their base on this issue. If I were advising Republicans, I would tell them to energize their base on this issue. The difference is, the President is doing this right now. The Democrats are not."

Which strikes me as pollster-ese for "Just win, baby." Really, thanks for the insights.

More details here, including breakdowns by Dem, GOP, and Independent affiliations.

And in case you're wondering about the overall distribution of party affiliation, here's the score from Gallup: a little less than one-third call themselves GOPpers, around one-third call themselves Dems, and the rest are Indies.

And here's the score from Harris, which charts a long, slow decline for Dems from 50 percent of voters circa 1970 to only 34 percent in 2004, Republicans holding steady at a bit less than one-third over the same period, and Indies clocking in at around one-quarter of the vote.

NEXT: That Blue Collar Looks Fabulous On You

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Interesting, so next time reason touts the “60 percent of the country disagrees with the Iraq War” line, can I then say, yeah, but more than that wants to be videotaped in public?

  2. I suppose it doesn’t matter – margin of error and all that – but I’m surprised that Bush I represents the high tide of Republicanism (in the last few decades and a few other qualifiers).

    I still like him better than his sons …

  3. What gets me is that a majority both realize the war in Iraq was pointless and think Saddam had something to do with 9/11…

  4. b-psycho,

    In which universe does 46% constitute a majority?

  5. You would expect, however, that if 46% think Saddam had something to do with 9-11, then at least 46% would support the war. You know, ’cause that just makes sense.

  6. We lost over 50,000 thousand men and women in the Korean war. South Korea has about the same population as Iraq. The war is still ongoing (technically and diplomatically), and it took about 25 years for S. Korea to become a real democracy.

    Was it worth it?

  7. Dunno Chad, would S Korea have become a democracy without our people dying or any of our money being spent over there?

    My guess is you would answer “no”, but since we’ll never know, I’ll have to tentatively disagree.

  8. “We lost over 50,000 thousand men and women in the Korean war.”

    Actually, it was 36,576. The 50,000+ figure is an error based on including the deaths of every US service member regardless of where they died: http://www.koreanwar-educator.org/topics/casualties/index.htm

  9. Put me down as a Republican who was against the war from the start. And what likely outcome could possibly justify any further American and Iraqi casualties? Why should the Iraqi people trust our government? They’d be fools to do so. Just look at the thug Egyptian and Jordanian regimes that billions of our tax dollars support. Our government wants to bring freedom to the mid-East? Bull! Our tax dollars going to the Egyptian government and the Jordanian government as well as to support the Israeli government’s murderous and thieving (increasingly so with the wall) occupation of Palestinian land says otherwise. Also, note that our government shamefully sends people to the monstrous Egyptian regime to be tortured! We need to force our government to adhere to the principles of decency and individual liberty upon which our republic was founded.

    “Not worth it” implies that there might have been something of value in the war. There wasn’t and there isn’t cuz Iraq never did, and doesn’t, pose a threat to our security. It’s time for our military to come home, and it’s time to tell the Israeli government and its supporters that there’ll be no more wasting American lives and tax money for their agenda.

  10. Apostate Jew:

    I still like him better than his sons …

    I certainly like both George senior and Jeb better than I “like” King George.

  11. Apostate Jew:

    I still like him better than his sons …

    I certainly like both George senior and Jeb better than I “like” King George.

  12. Damn the server squirrels! Full speed ahead!

  13. “Actually, it was 36,576”

    Fine. That is more than a dozen times what we have lost in Iraq and several times more than we could plausibly loose under almost any realistic scenario.

    Was the Korean war worth it? Yes or no?

    “Dunno Chad, would S Korea have become a democracy without our people dying or any of our money being spent over there?”

    Your suspicion is right. Given that neither N. Korea or its patron China are democracies, it is rather implausible that S. Korea would have magically become one if we had surrendered her to the north. Rather, the scar-on-the-face-of-humanity that is N. Korea would likely be twice as big.

  14. The war in Iraq has been a fiasco from the get-go, but is this thread about that or about polls or about what percent of the populaltion may have weaned themselves from identifying themselves as Reps and/or Dems?

    Laser Man hankers to strike!

  15. Good points, Chad, but that still doesn’t mean this “war” is just or right or moral. Nor does what you see as success in N Korea mean that we would see similar improvements in Iraq or the Middle-East.

    I think one could also argue that the fact that we went to war against N Korea ensured that when we finally backed off a bit we’d be sure to not want to have anything to do with them, which keeps them in the darkness that much more easily. Look how rapidly China has begun to chill out once they were more readily allowed to be a part of the rest of the world.

    I guess time will tell.

  16. jf: Nick said “about half”, I figured it was 50%.

    Whatever, it’s weird that even ONE believes Saddam had anything to do with it, let alone thinks that while simultanously believing the war wasn’t worth it.

  17. “Good points, Chad, but that still doesn’t mean this “war” is just or right or moral.”

    What would make this war right or moral is that, in the long run, fewer people are killed (and less property destroyed, if you want to go into pure utilitarianism) than the status quo or any other realistic alternatives. Even with all the chaos in Iraq, the death rate is on the same order as it was under Saddam over his total reign. Despite cries to the contrary, things ARE progressing in Iraq, though not always in the way we would most desire. The war has evolved from a standard military conflict to a war with foriegn Jihadis to trying to quell Sunni terrorist acts to trying to keep the peace when the majority Shiites retaliated. It will take a while but barring some outside incident (eg, major war in Iran, Israel, whatever) Iraq will settle down.

    Any plausible alternatives I can think of before the war would have involved Saddam staying in power for life before passing his power (and likely nuclear weapons) unto his sons. Frankly, I will take the war. The war COULD have been prevented, but that would have required Russia and China to actually not want the war (which they clearly did, as any weakening of our power is worth more to them than the fate of Saddam or Iraq), or for us to accept the status quo. Neither was going to happen.

    “Nor does what you see as success in N Korea mean that we would see similar improvements in Iraq or the Middle-East.”

    I am an optimist. Over times, things have gotten better and will continue to do so – even in Iraq. Before the war, I was taking bets that Iraq will be a better place in 2013 than 2003. I stand by that one and expect to collect on every bet I made.

    “I think one could also argue that the fact that we went to war against N Korea ensured that when we finally backed off a bit we’d be sure to not want to have anything to do with them, which keeps them in the darkness that much more easily. Look how rapidly China has begun to chill out once they were more readily allowed to be a part of the rest of the world.”

    China, fortunately, is not in the hands of a nut-job dictator. If we had not faught in Korea, not only would the whole Cold War have been different (likely to our detriment, considering we won), but Kim Jong would be starving twice as many people. I don’t see many alternative histories where the lack of war would have improved relations or gotten rid of that power structure.

  18. “Good points, Chad, but that still doesn’t mean this “war” is just or right or moral.”

    What would make this war right or moral is that, in the long run, fewer people are killed (and less property destroyed, if you want to go into pure utilitarianism) than the status quo or any other realistic alternatives. Even with all the chaos in Iraq, the death rate is on the same order as it was under Saddam over his total reign. Despite cries to the contrary, things ARE progressing in Iraq, though not always in the way we would most desire. The war has evolved from a standard military conflict to a war with foriegn Jihadis to trying to quell Sunni terrorist acts to trying to keep the peace when the majority Shiites retaliated. It will take a while but barring some outside incident (eg, major war in Iran, Israel, whatever) Iraq will settle down.

    Any plausible alternatives I can think of before the war would have involved Saddam staying in power for life before passing his power (and likely nuclear weapons) unto his sons. Frankly, I will take the war. The war COULD have been prevented, but that would have required Russia and China to actually not want the war (which they clearly did, as any weakening of our power is worth more to them than the fate of Saddam or Iraq), or for us to accept the status quo. Neither was going to happen.

    “Nor does what you see as success in N Korea mean that we would see similar improvements in Iraq or the Middle-East.”

    I am an optimist. Over times, things have gotten better and will continue to do so – even in Iraq. Before the war, I was taking bets that Iraq will be a better place in 2013 than 2003. I stand by that one and expect to collect on every bet I made.

    “I think one could also argue that the fact that we went to war against N Korea ensured that when we finally backed off a bit we’d be sure to not want to have anything to do with them, which keeps them in the darkness that much more easily. Look how rapidly China has begun to chill out once they were more readily allowed to be a part of the rest of the world.”

    China, fortunately, is not in the hands of a nut-job dictator. If we had not faught in Korea, not only would the whole Cold War have been different (likely to our detriment, considering we won), but Kim Jong would be starving twice as many people. I don’t see many alternative histories where the lack of war would have improved relations or gotten rid of that power structure.

  19. Any plausible alternatives I can think of before the war would have involved Saddam staying in power for life before passing his power (and likely nuclear weapons) unto his sons.

    What?? Only in your nightmares. Didya forget the aluminum tube scare tactic and the Niger Uranium forgery/fraud? “Likely nuclear weapons” Ha!

  20. Even with all the chaos in Iraq, the death rate is on the same order as it was under Saddam over his total reign.

    Maybe if you count the Al-Anfal campaign and the opression immediately following the Gulf War, but for the last ten years of his reign Saddam was relatively chill. If the death rate is equal to what it was over Saddam’s entire reign, as you claim, then it has definetley gone up from the preceding 5-10 years.

    Despite cries to the contrary, things ARE progressing in Iraq, though not always in the way we would most desire.

    By what standards? Source, please? I haven’t seen the exact numbers but anecdotally back in 2003 right after the invasion journalists could walk around Baghdad and be relatively secure. Now, it would be suicidal. Nobody thinks things are progressing except George Bush and Christopher Hitchens.

  21. Hey ricky! Didya forget that Saddam did have a fully functioning nuclear weapons program in 1991? Or are you playing brain dead again? Really I hate to be nasty but you seem to forget any thing nasty about your friend in the middle east…except the jooos.
    Yea and Joe Wilson is some kind of piece of work. Lets do talk about the Niger “yellowcake.”

  22. Speaking of South Korea, has their ever been a more ungrateful nation in the history of the earth? Apparentley Anti-Americanism is rampant there after 36,000 troops died their fifty years ago and our forces are STILL the only thing keeping those people from being at the mercy of a madman.

    As Ayn Rand once said, nobody respects an alturist whether in personal relationships or foreign affairs.

  23. Table 1 in the Harris poll is interesting for the figure it doesn’t give. People who identify with “some other” party went from nowhere to the 5-6% range during the Ford admin., stayed approximately there during Carter’s, then soared higher during Reagn’s 1st term before sinking back in his 2nd, stayed there during Bush’s, then crept higher during Clinton’s 2nd term, and under Bush Jr. is the highest ever, around 11%. It tracks independently of the independents.

    I wonder to what degree people derive their party affil’n from their policy opinions rather than vice versa. I suspect a lot of people who identify with parties do so for other reasons (one possible reason being their previous opinions, and then figure out what opinion they’re “supposed to” have on that basis.

  24. “What?? Only in your nightmares. Didya forget the aluminum tube scare tactic and the Niger Uranium forgery/fraud? “Likely nuclear weapons” Ha!”

    Short-term thinking, my friend. How long would the sanctions have lasted, given the immense pressure that had been building to lift them? Remember the “500,000 Iraqi babies killed by the sanctions” that no one but Osama talks about anymore? How long would we have kept up even our three-quarter-assed inspections?

    Not as long as Saddam was likely to live.

  25. The Iraq war was never ‘worth it’ just as Vietnam was never ‘worth it’. Afghanistan was a justifiable action and initially resulted in the terrorists whose organization DID strike the U.S. being in total disarray. Bush’s adventure in Iraq only resulted in allowing them to regroup, and providing the terrorists with additional recruiting ammunition. You have to search hard to find anyone who thinks things are improving in Iraq, and even Afgahnistan is now deteriorating.

    In addition to the brave Americans who have been killed, you need to take into account the thousands of horribly wounded soldiers (many of whom would not have survived their devastating injuries in previous wars)whose lives have been destroyed. Even without taking into account the thousands of Iraqi civilians killed (more than would have been likely under a cornered and isolated Saddam),the war in Iraq was not, and is not, worth it.

    Bring our soldiers home.

  26. I’m trying to be optimistic here, but about the
    only historical significance that will surround Operation Iraqi Freedom will be its inclusion in all future works dedicated to chronicling military blunders.

  27. I goggle at the claim that the U.S. “won” the Korean conflict. It was a “tie”, surely. The NKs overran the peninsula, with the SK/UN forces retreating to the Pusan perimeter. Our side turned the tables starting with the Inchon breakout, cut off the enemy’s supply lines and drove the NKs almost to the Chinese border. Then the “Chinese volunteers” cross the Yalu, and SK/UN forces are driven back. Seoul was lost a second time. We fought back and retook the South’s capital. After a stalemate and protracted negotiations, an armistice was signed that essentially installed the status quo ante bellum, with a DMZ added.

    There’s a reason that Gunny Highway in Heartbreak Ridge says that his record after Grenada is “1-1-1.”

    The War of 1812 was a tie, too, even if Canada, which didn’t exist yet, thinks they won it.

    Kevin

  28. kevrob, if someone attacks you and you fight them to a standstill, that is a victory for you the defender. Likewise, we lost in our skirmishes with Canada in 1812 (while we won the war). By your standard, would we have had to capture all of Britain to win that war?

    rm2muv, the fact that you talk about the Iraq war in the past tense betrays a lot about your thinking concerning it. It is far from over, and will be judged on the long-term results. Under Saddam, between 30 and 80 Iraqis were killed on average every day for thirty years (it depends on whose numbers you use). The only difference now is that we are paying attention to them.

  29. Guys, there are no winners in war, only losers.

  30. “…a little less than one-third call themselves GOPpers, around one-third call themselves Dems, and the rest are Indies.”

    Do they have a category for unregistered nonvoters (people like me, that is) who would like nothing more than to see all career politicians rounded up and gassed?

  31. “Do they have a category for unregistered nonvoters (people like me, that is) who would like nothing more than to see all career politicians rounded up and gassed?”

    I think they put those under “Don’t Know / No Answer”.

  32. I’m not sure how success in Iraq is measured anymore. What is “victory” or the “job” which Bush speaks. Success is the accomplishment of a stated goal(s).

    If success is “defeating the insurgency” then the towel has already been thrown. No one in the Bush admin expects us to succed in that goal.

    If success is “preparing the Iraqis to take over the fight”. We may have success in that goal but that is not success by any previous standard nor a recipe peace or stability.

    We are watering down the definition of victory in order to accept something less than quality.

    The US leaving with Iraq approaching a civil war, either now or later, would leave Iraq a total mess. We could kid ourselves, but it will not be viewed as a victory for the US by any other nation. I suspect this is what we will do. Rumsfeld has stated publicly that we will not defeat the insurgence, the Iraqis will.

    The difference between the Repubs plan and Dems plan is that Repubs is more complex because it has more steps.

    Dems plan
    1. Cut and run

    Repubs plan
    1. Pass the buck
    2. Cut and run

    My prediction for 2010 is we will still be asking, why can’t the sunnis and shias just get along.

    We ignore their culture and thing we know what’s best for them. To get some idea of how long the turmoil will last in Iraq. Think Palistine/Israel. If we break-up Iraq we will have two nations at war in lieu of civil war. The Sunnis and Shias are going to fight until god knows when. How much of our treasure will we commit?

    Is it worth spending the money that could fix social security on a region that doesn’t want peace with its self?

  33. Guys, there are no winners in war, only losers.

    Yeah, but don’t tell the American blacks or the Jews that. They are really committed to the lie.

    Or in non-sarcastic terms, you’re an idiot.

  34. Eric:

    Hey ricky! Didya forget that Saddam did have a fully functioning nuclear weapons program in 1991?…Lets do talk about the Niger “yellowcake.”

    “Fully functioning” Right. With no real equipment or enrichment. The Niger Uranium hoax was a fraud via forgery. Saddam was a butchering dictator, BTW, especially savage on fundamentalist Islamics. But he was never a threat to our security. But the neocons engaged in a lot of duplicity, of which the Niger hoax was a part, to make us think otherwise.

    And BTW, it’s “Rickey” as in my Friday fun link SC: Rickey Ramone. 🙂

  35. Eric:

    Hey ricky! Didya forget that Saddam did have a fully functioning nuclear weapons program in 1991?…Lets do talk about the Niger “yellowcake.”

    “Fully functioning” Right. With no real equipment or enrichment. The Niger Uranium hoax was a fraud via forgery. Saddam was a butchering dictator, BTW, especially savage on fundamentalist Islamics. But he was never a threat to our security. But the neocons engaged in a lot of duplicity, of which the Niger hoax was a part, to make us think otherwise.

    BTW, It’s “Rickey” as in my Friday fun link SN: Rickey Ramone. 🙂

  36. Damn, well it shoulda been “SN” as in the 2nd post anyway

  37. if someone attacks you and you fight them to a standstill, that is a victory for you the defender.

    In fact, South Korea (and friends) did not expel North Korea from all of the RoK’s pre-war territory.

    Likewise, we lost in our skirmishes with Canada in 1812 (while we won the war). By your standard, would we have had to capture all of Britain to win that war?

    By your standard, we lost it. The U.S. declared war on the British Empire. The casus belli – the Orders in Council demanding that Yankee ships not trade with Bonapartist France and the countries in Nappy’s Continental System, along with the impressment of Americans from U.S.-flagged ships – were repealed days after war was declared. Had there been a transatlantic telegraph in those days, war could have been called off. By the time the Treaty of Ghent was signed, we hadn’t kicked the British out of Maine. Our diplomats, exploiting Britain’s desire to end a war they never wanted, got a good deal. We had some good wins in the naval war in ship-to-ship exchanges, but once Napoleon was stashed on Elba, the Royal Navy bottled up U.S. ships in port. seas. It is silly to chalk the 1812-1814 conflict down as an American win. The War Hawks who agitated for it wanted to annex all of Canada. The New Englanders, for whose shipping the war was supposed to have been declared, wanted out of it almost immediately. The Hartford Convention even contemplated secession. No, the 1812-1814 Anglo-American war was perhaps the most useless and wasteful one our country ever fought. getting out of it with a tie was a lucky thing.

    Kevin

  38. Chad,

    Sorry, but I see no evidence to back up your claim that Saddam would have likley had nukes to pass on to his sons.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.