Mon, Aug 08, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Public support for Bush's policy in Iraq falls sharply

AFP , WASHINGTON

US President George W. Bush took a political beating this weekend after a second opinion poll, taken after a spike in US casualties in Iraq, showed a sharp drop in public support for his Iraq policy.

The survey by Newsweek magazine indicated only 34 percent of Americans approved of the way Bush was handling the situation in Iraq while 61 percent expressed their disapproval.

The findings, made public on Saturday, represented the president's lowest rating on Iraq ever, which thus far has hovered above the 40 percent mark.

They echoed a sampling conducted this past week by Ipsos-Public Affairs for the Associated Press, which indicated that just 38 percent of respondents approved of what Bush is doing in Iraq while 59 percent disapproved of the policies and two percent had mixed feelings about them.

At least 38 US military personnel have died in Iraq in the last 10 days -- in one of the deadliest outbreaks of insurgent violence since the March 2003 US-led invasion of the country.

As of Saturday, the overall death toll for the US military in Iraq stood at 1,823, according to the Pentagon tally.

The count did not include two US soldiers killed later in the day in a bomb attack near Samarra.

Bush moved on Wednesday to cushion an anticipated backlash against his policies as he assured in a speech in Grapevine, Texas, that his administration had "a strategy for success" in Iraq.

"And the families can know that we will honor their loved one's sacrifice by completing the mission, by laying the foundations for peace for generations to come," the president said.

The survey showed the plea may have fallen on deaf ears.

Reflecting a gloomy mood setting in in the country, half of those polled said the US was losing ground in its efforts to establish security and democracy in Iraq.

Only 40 percent had the opposite point of view.

The previously rock-solid commitment to maintaining a US military presence in the country for as long as it would be necessary to establish a stable and democratic government there also appears to have been shaken.

Just 26 percent of those polled now said they supported keeping large numbers of US military personnel in Iraq for as long as it takes to achieve US goals.

Thirty-eight percent argued they would support keeping troops there less than a year while 13 percent were willing to maintain that commitment for up to two years, according to the survey. As much as 12 percent said troops should be brought home now.

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