How's the War in Iraq Going?

Our readers widely agree that the U.S. will prevail militarily. Achieving President Bush's stated goals, however, seems far less likely

Some two weeks into the war against Iraq, BusinessWeek Online readers remained very optimistic that the U.S. will win, but they're unsure or skeptical that it would achieve the key objectives set forth by President George W. Bush at the outset of the conflict. Those are the primary findings from a Mar. 27 BusinessWeek Online Reader Survey.

Of the nearly 800 readers who participated, 14% of whom were from outside the U.S., some 81% said the U.S. is somewhat or very likely to win the war, vs. 13% who said it's somewhat unlikely or not likely at all.

Readers felt that way even though 65% thought that, to date, the war had gone not as well as expected or not well at all. They seemed to place the responsibility for that on the war's planners -- the President, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and top generals: 62% said their performance had been worse or much worse than expected, vs. the 18% who felt it was better or much better than expected.

SPLIT ON WEAPONS.

  Generally, readers felt that soldiers on both sides are performing well: 46% said U.S. troops are doing only about as well as expected, vs. the 33% who thought they're doing better or much better than expected. But that's likely because those who participated in the survey had high expectations of U.S. troops. Asked simply how American soldiers are performing, 59% said extremely well or very well.

Respondents are skeptical, however, over whether victory in Iraq will achieve the President's aims. They were evenly divided on the question of how likely it is that the U.S. will uncover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: 41% think that's somewhat or very likely, vs. 41% who think it's somewhat or very unlikely.

Similarly, 58% think it's somewhat or very unlikely that the Iraqi people ultimately will regard the U.S. as their liberator, vs. the 29% who think that's somewhat or very likely.

DEMOCRACY? UNLIKELY.

  Some 61% of those who participated think it's somewhat or very unlikely that by toppling Saddam Hussein's regime the U.S. will head off terrorist attacks at home, vs. the 28% who think that's somewhat or very likely.

And 67% thought it not very likely or not likely at all that a U.S. victory in Iraq will pave the way for the spread of democracy throughout the Middle and Far East, vs. the 20% who view that as very or somewhat likely.

Asked how personally committed they are to the goals of the war as articulated by the Bush Administration, 41% said they are somewhat or very committed, vs. 50% who said they are not very committed, or not committed at all.

Here are the full results of the survey, which as usual isn't scientific since anyone who wished to could participate:

How would you say the war has gone to date, from the U.S. perspective?

Option Total %  
Much better than expected 34 4.39 %
Better than expected 88 11.35 %
Neither better nor worse than expected 152 19.61 %
Not as well as expected 269 34.71 %
Not well at all 226 29.16 %
Don't know 6 0.77 %

How would you describe the performance of U.S. troops in battle?

Option Total %  
Much better than expected 105 13.58 %
Better than expected 148 19.15 %
Neither better nor worse than expected 356 46.05 %
Worse than expected 96 12.42 %
Much worse than expected 49 6.34 %
Don't know 19 2.46 %

Overall, how would you say U.S. troops are performing?

Option Total %  
Extremely well 214 27.76 %
Very well 242 31.39 %
As well as not 157 20.36 %
Not very well 83 10.77 %
Not well at all 56 7.26 %
Don't know 19 2.46 %

How would you describe the performance of the Iraqi troops in battle?

Option Total %  
Much better than expected 188 24.45 %
Better than expected 312 40.57 %
Neither better nor worse than expected 196 25.49 %
Worse than expected 29 3.77 %
Much worse than expected 24 3.12 %
Don't know 20 2.60 %

How would you describe the performance to date of the war's planners (President Bush, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and the nation's top generals) in coming up with a good battle strategy?

Option Total %  
Much better than expected 50 6.48 %
Better than expected 88 11.4 %
Neither better nor worse than expected 148 19.17 %
Worse than expected 178 23.06 %
Much worse than expected 299 38.73 %
Don't know 9 1.17 %

At this point, how likely do you think it is that U.S. forces will uncover or be exposed to Iraqi weapons of mass destruction?

Option Total %  
Very likely 162 20.96 %
Somewhat likely 160 20.7 %
As likely as not 116 15.01 %
Somewhat unlikely 153 19.79 %
Very unlikely 161 20.83 %
Don't know 21 2.72 %

At this point, how likely do you think it is that the Iraqi people ultimately will regard the U.S. as their liberator?

Option Total %  
Very likely 78 10.05 %
Somewhat likely 146 18.81 %
As likely as not 95 12.24 %
Somewhat unlikely 117 15.08 %
Very unlikely 333 42.91 %
Don't know 7 0.90 %

At this point, how likely do you think it is that by toppling Saddam Hussein's regime, the U.S. will head off terrorist attacks at home?

Option Total %  
Very likely 122 15.78 %
Somewhat likely 98 12.68 %
As likely as not 73 9.44 %
Somewhat unlikely 82 10.61 %
Very unlikely 388 50.19 %
Don't know 10 1.29 %

According to some theories, a U.S. victory in Iraq will pave the way for the spread or imposition of democracy throughout the Middle and Far East. At the moment, would you say that this is:

Option Total %  
Very likely 39 5.05 %
Somewhat likely 116 15.01 %
Neither more nor less likely 95 12.29 %
Not very likely 191 24.71 %
Not likely at all 326 42.17 %
Don't know 6 0.78 %

How likely do you think it is that the U.S. will win in Iraq?

Option Total %  
Very likely 479 61.97 %
Somewhat likely 144 18.63 %
Neither more nor less likely 45 5.82 %
Somewhat unlikely 52 6.73 %
Not likely at all 45 5.82 %
Don't know 8 1.03 %

How committed would you say you are personally to the goals of the war as articulated by the Bush Administration?

Option Total %  
Very committed 225 29.22 %
Somewhat committed 93 12.08 %
As committed as not 59 7.66 %
Not very committed 80 10.39 %
Not committed at all 305 39.61 %
Don't know 8 1.04 %

Where do you live?

Option Total %  
Northeast 191 24.61 %
Midwest 128 16.49 %
South 120 15.46 %
Southwest 74 9.54 %
West 155 19.97 %
Outside the U.S. 108 13.92 %
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