LOS ANGELES - In the nearly two years since US-led troops invaded Iraq , opposition
to the war has grown in the United States and few Americans believe that
the upcoming elections will improve the situation in the troubled Middle
Only one-third of the Americans surveyed in a Harris poll last week said they expect the January 30 vote to help quell violence in Iraq, where more than 1,360 US troops have died since the March 2003 invasion and an insurgency shows no signs of abating.
Thirty-four percent said the situation will get better in Iraq after the vote, while another 34 percent said things will remain the same and 25 percent said the situation will get worse, according to the poll of 2,209 adults by Harris Interactive.
"It has taken a while, but now Americans seem to be more conscious of the war and its impact," said Bruce Cain, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.
"Many Americans at first gave the benefit of the doubt to (President George W. Bush) out of patriotism, out of confidence in him.
"Now we have a majority of people saying the war was a mistake," Cain said.
Bush avoided using the word "Iraq" in his inaugural speech on Thursday but made it clear that a drive to spread freedom and end tyranny would be the centerpiece of his foreign policy during his next four years in office.
Bush has repeatedly defended his decision to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and points to the November US presidential election as evidence that the American people are behind him.
"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 election," Bush told The Washington Post in an interview last week.
A Washington Post-ABC poll found, however, that 55 percent of Americans said the war in Iraq was not worth fighting while 44 percent said it was. And a USA Today-CNN poll found Americans felt 52-47 percent that the Iraq war was a mistake.
Just days before the Iraqi elections, Bush trumpeted having put an end to one of the worst dictatorships on the planet and asked for patience.
"I am realistic about how quickly a society that has been dominated by a tyrant can become a democracy, and therefore I am more patient than some," Bush told the Post.
Bush has refused to set a date for a withdrawal of the 150,000 troops in Iraq, going only so far as to promise that they will come home as soon as possible.
Cain said the Bush administration had a lot riding on the results of the upcoming Iraqi election.
"If the election is a disaster that will be further evidence that the whole thing was a mistake," he said. "At least it will be evidence that the plan is not working."
Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse.