Poll: Americans Optimistic About Iraq

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A new nationwide survey reveals the American people are very optimistic about the direction of the war in Iraq. But at the same time, the study shows the public is losing interest with the nation's efforts to deal with many different and diverse problems facing the world today.

The poll also reveals public trends against global engagement by the U.S. military, preventing genocide, strengthening the United Nations, promoting human rights, and reducing the spread of AIDS and other diseases.

Highest Approval Rating of Iraq War in Four Years

The survey on policy attitudes was conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press in collaboration with the Council on Foreign Relations. The survey was conducted among 2,982 adults via landlines or cell phones from Sept. 9-14.

Almost 58 percent of Americans say the U.S. military efforts in Iraq are going well. It is the highest approval rating of the war in more than four years. Yet the perception about the war's progress has done little to increase public support for maintaining a U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

Half of the public says the war was the wrong decision and favors withdrawing U.S. troops as soon as possible. But in contrast, the survey results show there's strong support for keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

According to the poll, the American public's top foreign policy goals are defending the country against terrorism, protecting U.S. jobs and helping the U.S. become more energy independent.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans also favor more offshore oil and gas drilling and a greater number support drilling in Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge or ANWR.

Republicans and Democrats Still Disagree on Priorities

Political disagreements abound on most other international priorities. The survey found that twice as many Democrats as Republicans rate reducing U.S. military commitments as a top priority. Nearly three times as many say dealing with global climate change is of great importance.

The survey also shows that swing voters believe John McCain could best deal with foreign policy by a 52% to 25 percent margin over Barack Obama. But most Americans think that the next President should work on domestic issues rather than foreign policy.

Source:  The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

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