The Wall Street Journal has a report on the public's bulked-up opinions surrounding the war, which is one of the most underreported developments of the last year:
The perception that the U.S. troop surge in Iraq has succeeded is changing some public views of the war, potentially blunting Democrats' political edge on the issue.Obviously, the public hasn't done an about-face in its levels of support for the war, but as I've reported earlier, a majority of Americans now sees the U.S. likely to win in Iraq, and a large majority opposes an immediate troop withdrawal from the country.
Americans continue to judge the nearly five-year-old U.S. invasion of Iraq as a mistake, by margins that have barely budged. But in a notable shift, public perceptions of the current U.S. military effort there "have become significantly more positive over the past several months," says a recent report from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. It shows that almost half of Americans think the war effort is going well, and that the U.S. should keep its troops there, at least for the time being. Other polls echo the trend to varying degrees.
The results suggest that -- barring another reversal in conditions -- Democrats' ability to use the war as a political weapon could be somewhat curtailed, particularly when the general-election campaign begins....
In the most in-depth picture of the trend, the Pew report says that about half the public (48%) now says the Iraq war effort is going either very well or fairly well. That compares to a more than 2-1 majority who said it was going badly a year ago. Nearly half (47%) say the U.S. should keep its troops in Iraq until the situation there has stabilized -- roughly the same as those (49%) who favor bringing troops home as soon as possible. A year ago, 53% favored rapid withdrawal versus 42% who favored keeping the troops in Iraq.
Pollsters first noticed an uptick in public perceptions of the war in the fall. But the change in February "struck me as, 'Wow,'" said Andrew Kohut, the Pew Research Center director. The U.S. troop surge during 2007 sent 30,000 additional combat troops to Iraq to help quell growing violence. The last of the surge troops are scheduled to be withdrawn this summer.
I'll will say once again, though: We're winning this war: The administration sees it, the military sees it, the American people see it, and Iraqis themselves see it - as they increasingly renounce their own religion's fight against the historic forces of freedom.
Now if the media would just start to really see it, then we'd be getting somewhere (the antiwar left will never see it).
(Discussion Question: Should the administration and the presidential candidates talk-up success in Iraq more substantially, or would such public relations efforts create a public backlash in the case of dramatic military setbacks? On this exact point, see James Willbanks, "Winning the Battle, Losing the War," at the New York Times).