The vast majority of Americans now say the war in Iraq was not worth waging, according to a new poll released Tuesday in the wake of weeks of violent conflict between Iraqi forces and Sunni extremists that has destabilized the region.
According to a poll released by NBC News/The Wall Street Journal/Annenberg, 71% of Americans said the United States’ 2003 invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government was not worth the cost. The overwhelmingly negative sentiment marks a dramatic increase over the last year and a half, when just 59% of Americans responded the same way.
The poll results could help explain President Obama’s sinking approval ratings on his handling of foreign-policy issues in recent weeks. In a similar poll released last week, the president’s approval rating on foreign policy dipped to just 37% – an all-time low in the history of the survey. Obama’s low approval ratings correspond with growing dissatisfaction over America’s invasion of Iraq as tensions in the region grow.
Obama has pledged he will not send troops into combat in Iraq, but said last Thursday that the U.S. was prepared to dispatch up to 300 military advisers to the country to assist Iraqi forces.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni extremist group, seized large swaths of Iraq earlier this month, including Mosul, the country’s second-largest city. The militants now control a majority of the border region with Syria, even as Syrian warplanes on Tuesday reportedly struck insurgent targets in western Iraq for a second consecutive day. According to a United Nations report released Tuesday, more than 1,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the region this month.
Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Iraq and met with Kurdish leaders in the region Tuesday, urging them to stand in unity with Baghdad.
“A united Iraq is a stronger Iraq,” Kerry told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Tuesday. “Our policy is to respect the territorial integrity of Iraq as a whole. It’s up to Iraqis to decide their future leadership. That’s not for the United States to determine.”
The NBC poll released Tuesday found that 50% of the American public did not believe it was the United States’ responsibility to assist the Iraqi government in its attempts to repel the insurgent groups.
The poll, conducted June 16-22, surveyed 1,383 adults and has a 3.3% margin of error.