- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Americans have lived with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for 12 years, essentially, and their perceptions of the conflicts are shifting. “Amid a security situation in Iraq and Afghanistan that continues to be contentious, a smaller share of Americans now than last year view the conflict in Afghanistan or the Iraq war as a mistake,” writes Andrew Dugan, a Gallup analyst.

The pollster finds that a “slim majority” - 51 percent - now say Iraq was a mistake, down six percentage points in a year. Forty two percent say Afghanistan was a mistake, also down six percentage points in a year. Most Republicans have been consistent in their sentiments about the wars; only about 30 percent say they were a mistake, with little variation over the years. Opinion is shifting elsewhere, however.

“While Republicans remain the political group least likely to express regret for the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, a slight change in Democrats’ and independents’ views is why a lower proportion of the country now sees either conflict as a mistake. Compared with last year, Democrats are seven points less likely to see Iraq as a mistake and eight points less likely to see Afghanistan as a mistake. Independents saw similar movement on these questions,” Mr. Dugan says.

A Fox News poll, meanwhile, reveals voter attitudes about continued containment of the Islamic State. Eight out of 10, for example, approve of U.S. air strikes. Maintaining a significant number of troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria is a different story, however.

The numbers:

79 percent of U.S. voters approve of U.S. airstrikes against “Islamic extremists”; 88 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

71 percent overall favor drone strikes against Islamic extremists; 80 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of independents and 66 percent of Democrats agree.

68 percent overall approve increasing U.S. airstrikes; 81 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 58 percent of Democrats agree.

50 percent overall favor sending a limited number of U.S. ground troops to Iraq and Syria; 61 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of independents and 45 percent of Democrats agree.

43 percent overall favor providing weapons to nations fighting Islamic extremists; 45 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

37 percent overall favor sending a “significant number” of troops to Iraq and Syria; 50 percent of Republicans, 33 percent of independents and 27 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Fox News poll of 1,006 registered U.S. voters conducted May 31 - June 2 and released Friday.

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