July 12, 2007 / 6:09 PM / 10 years ago

Americans tired of Iraq war, split on withdrawal

By Andrea Hopkins

CINCINNATI, July 12 (Reuters) - Americans are tired of the Iraq war and doubt victory will ever come, but remained split over President George W. Bush’s vow on Thursday to stay the course in Iraq despite a report showing limited progress.

"I can’t stand it anymore. What are we going to succeed at?" asked Cincinnati restaurant manager Stephanie Laycock, 36, who said she had opposed the war from the beginning.

A USA Today/Gallup poll this week showed more than seven in 10 Americans favor withdrawing nearly all U.S. troops by April, and several surveys show the approval ratings for Bush, a Republican, are at the lows of his presidency.

Bush told a news conference his troop buildup in Iraq had made limited progress but said he would wait for a September security report by Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker before considering a change of course.

"We’ll ... have a clearer picture of how the new strategy is unfolding, and be in a better position to judge where we need to make any adjustments," Bush said.

Americans were divided over the president’s stand.

"I‘m not terribly surprised; he’s been a stubborn leader on this subject and I don’t think he’s going to listen to anyone," said Tom McAuliffe, 57, a banker from Columbus, Ohio.

Hospital volunteer Sally Kessler, 74, disagreed.

"I think he’s doing a wonderful job. These people are out to get us and if we back off they’ll come after us here," said Kessler, a Cincinnati Republican who voted for Bush.

Chicago musician Dave Cavalier, whose 24-year-old brother is in Iraq with the U.S. military, said the United States should make plans to bring troops home safely.

"It’s just getting more and more dangerous every day," said Cavalier, 20. "I think we’re all coming to the conclusion that we’ve lost this war."

DANGEROUS AND CHALLENGING

An interim White House report found the Iraqi government had made only mixed progress in meeting political goals. It said conditions were still dangerous and challenging, six months after Bush ordered a U.S. troop buildup.

Iraqi-Americans in Detroit echoed the report’s findings, saying friends and family back home faced daily violence and crushing shortages of water, electricity and gasoline.

"Things are worse," said Abbas Al-Daraji, a truck driver who has lived in the United States for 10 years but whose siblings and mother remain in Iraq.

"People are not happy and not safe. I give the U.S. government and the Iraqi government very poor marks. The Iraqi government, they are better people than Saddam. It’s good we got rid of Saddam. But they have not done anything after that," said Daraji, 32.

In Atlanta, small business owner Helen Robinson said she saw no sense to the war.

"I have not seen anything else but death and bloodshed .... I still feel that we have got time to pull out of there and not cause any more senseless deaths," Robinson said.

But security officer Roshad Lyons, a Democrat, said Iran will take over in Iraq if U.S. troops pull out.

"I don’t see any reason to go there and not complete the job. The priority should be getting the (Iraqi) military up and running. It’s almost done," said Lyons.

In Bisbee, Arizona, construction worker Frank Cvitkrovic was skeptical.

"It’s bunk, more spin. They want to keep this going as long as possible," he said. "It’s all about weapons sales and high energy prices. Bush is just the enabler for the billionaires."

Renae Simpson, vacationing on the Texas resort of South Padre Island, said she and her husband Randy are Democrats, but totally support the war.

"We went in there with open eyes knowing it would not be easy," said Simpson.

"They came over here on our land and took down the twin towers. People forget that," Randy, a Vietnam veteran, added.

A Newsweek poll released last week found 41 percent of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein was directly involved in financing, planning or carrying out the Sept. 11 attacks, though no such connection has been found.

(Additional reporting by Kyle Peterson in Chicago, Jui Chakravorty in Detroit, Matt Bigg in Atlanta, Tim Gaynor in Arizona and Ed Stoddard in Texas)





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