Who is responsible for Iraq?

June 19, 2014, 10:24 AM GMT+0

When it comes to the current situation in Iraq, Americans give Barack Obama and George W. Bush roughly equal blame

President George W. Bush sent U.S. troops to Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein; President Barack Obama presided over their withdrawal and the current chaos as Islamic militants take over towns and cities in central Iraq and near Baghdad. Who is most responsible for what is going on today?

President Bush may have left office in January 2009, but just about as many Americans hold him responsible for the current situation as say President Obama is the one.

About one in three Americans give both Presidents some of the responsibility for what is happening in Iraq today.

Concern about what is going on in Iraq today clearly affects evaluations of both men. But George W. Bush fares slightly better. 42% approve of how he handled Iraq; 37% approve of how the current President is handling it.

There is less overlap here. Just over one in ten disapprove of both men’s management of this issue; fewer than one in ten approve of both men’s performance. Much of that is because of expected partisan divisions. Only 16% of Democrats approve of the way George W. Bush handled Iraq; only 14% of Republicans approve of Obama’s management. In contrast, partisans are more willing to admit that the President of their own party bears at least some responsibility for conditions in Iraq today. About four in ten of those affiliated with each party say that.

President Obama’s overall foreign policy rating is much like opinion of his handling of Iraq. 37% approve; 52% disapprove.

Americans are clearly opposed to any additional involvement in Iraq. They see the 2003 invasion – but not the 2011 withdrawal – as a mistake. Many are also opposed to a continued military commitment in Afghanistan, which the U.S. invaded following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

A majority does not believe it is a mistake to withdraw U.S. troops from that country, as Barack Obama has pledged to do. Even a third of Republicans agree this should be done.

But Americans remain divided on whether the original 2001 invasion was a mistake. By five to three, Democrats say it was; by five to three, Republicans say it was not.

Image: Getty

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