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US Public Support for Iraq War Drops

Three years after U.S. and coalition troops entered Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein there are signs of political progress amid the continuing violence. However, American support for the war is dropping, with 57 percent of those surveyed in recent polls (CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, Washington Post/AP poll) saying the conflict is not worth the cost. VOA gathered a random sample of opinion. VOA's Faith Lapidus has more.

U.S. President George W. Bush struck an upbeat tone as he marked the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. But U.S. public opinion is split, with more and more Americans believing the President's goals may never be achieved. "The enemies of a free Iraq are determined. Yet so are the Iraqi people, and so are America and coalition partners. We will not lose our nerve. We will help the Iraqi people succeed."

We asked several people on the street their opinion on Iraq. We have some responses:

"I feel very strongly. This is a waste of resources. A waste of lives. For what?" asked one woman.

"I think it should be over. That's my opinion. They just need to withdraw. I don't know how else they going to do it. The President's got himself in a spot," said one man we spoke with.

"I think that the decision was flawed, yes. I think it was a mistake. I think we've stirred up a hornet's nest," said another man.

But other Americans remain steadfast in their belief that the United States is doing the right thing in Iraq.

"In one fell swoop we were able to bring a chance for freedom to millions of people who had been enslaved for three decades. Of course it's going to be a dangerous and rocky road to travel," said a gentleman. "But I think the benefits we'd have from having a freed Iraq and a chance of political atmosphere in the Middle East is very much worth the risk and the sacrifice."

But for critics of the war, it is the personal sacrifice of Americans, not the broader Middle East landscape, that matters most.

"I know there have been a lot of lives lost ... a lot of young men. And if that country can survive on its own with its own government, I think it should try it and let our boys come back home. Or if someone else wants to go over there, let them solve the problem."

"I feel hurt because our soldiers are still over there fighting and we're losing men on a constant daily basis. I feel Bush needs to assess the issue and find out what's really going on over there. And if our men need to come home, they should come home."

Many supporters of the war point to the political progress made in Iraq, despite the continuing violence, as a reason to stay involved.

"I still trust that we're doing the right thing, even though some mistakes were made here and there. I don't think you can ever fight a war without things going wrong. It might not be in the next year or the next two years, but 20 years from now I think history is going to judge that we've done the right thing."

Whether historians will agree with that assertion remains to be seen. One thing is certain however; the divisiveness of the public debate over this war will be part of the historical record.