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Support for Iraq war eroding as body count passes 2,000
October 26, 2005 21:56 IST
As the death toll of American soldiers in Iraq crossed 2,000, support for the war is eroding, with its unpopularity dragging down President George W Bush's overall approval rating, media reports said Wednesday.
A poll by the Washington Post daily and ABC TV has found that the support for the war is dwindling. "The war's growing unpopularity is dragging down Bush's overall job approval rating, which stood at 42% of the most recent Washington Post poll -- and was even lower in subsequent surveys by other news organisations, The Post said.
Last month, only 38% of Americans approved of Bush's handling of the war, down from 47% earlier.
The Post recalled that Bush enjoyed much public support for the war when he began it in March 2003 with the rationale of ousting a brutal dictator who threatened the US with weapons of mass destruction.
But an intense search throughout Iraq since Saddam Hussein was overthrown found no WMD. Unique to the war in Iraq, the hardest hit are not regular soldiers, but the National Guard and reserves because of their unprecedented involvement overseas, the Post said.
The citizen soldiers account for about a quarter of those killed, sending the shock of death throughout cities and towns in almost every state.
"This is exponentially beyond anything we have seen since World War II," said Lt Gen H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau.
"The casualties are felt not only in the immediate family, but in the community, so the loss is shared and felt even beyond the lives of the normal tragedy. When you call up the Guard, you call up America. It is significant why the American people continue to support the soldiers even though they may not support the way the war is executed or even that we went to war."
The daily casualty tolls, the Post noted, are not usually big enough to jar the American public as a whole, apart from events such as helicopter crashes, a suicide bombing at a mess hall or rare heavy losses in battle.
Yet flag-draped coffins arriving from Iraq at the rate of two or three daily visit grief upon one town or another -- posing in intimate terms stark questions about the war, it said.
As Bush was speaking Tuesday before the Republican National Committee to mark the 2,000 body count, Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq and who had led demonstrations in front of the President's Texas ranch, began a vigil in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House.
It was her roadside demonstration near the ranch this summer that helped ignite a nascent anti-war movement. Move On-org, a liberal advocacy group, announced plans for television ads honouring the US soldiers killed and the 15,000 others wounded.