Iraq: Your Postwar Appraisal

Compared to how they felt earlier in the war, our readers now feel it went better -- militarily, at least -- than they expected

President George W. Bush has all but declared victory in Iraq, and readers of BusinessWeek Online give him plenty credit for the success of the U.S. invasion. Even so, they're skeptical that his Administration ultimately will achieve many of its goals in Iraq. Those are among the major findings of our Apr. 25 Reader Survey.

Most striking were the responses of the 480 readers who participated in this survey to four questions we asked in an earlier poll, on Mar. 27 during the heat of the battle.

For instance, some 49% of those who responded this time felt that the planners of the war had done better or much better than expected, vs. the 18% who thought so in March. Some 64% thought the war went better or much than expected, vs. the 17% who thought it was headed that way a month or so ago.

SKEPTICAL ON WMD.

  This time around, a resounding 62% thought U.S. troops did better or much better than expected in battle, vs. the 34% who felt that way in March. And 69% thought Iraqi troops did worse or much worse than expected in battle, vs. the 8% who felt that way at a time when U.S. forces were seemingly having trouble quashing the resistance in southern Iraq.

On the question of whether the invasion will ultimately achieve its objectives, some opinions have changed over the past five weeks. Only some 39% of those in the recent survey think the U.S. will uncover any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, down a bit from 42% in March. However, the percentage who think it's unlikely that such weapons will be found rose, from 40% to 49%.

Some 34% of those who responded think the Iraqi people will come to regard the U.S. as their liberator, up slightly from 30% who felt that way a month ago. A majority -- 58% -- still think it's somewhat or very unlikely that by toppling Saddam Hussein's regime the U.S. will have headed off terrorist attacks at home. That's nearly unchanged from March, when 60% of readers felt that way.

WORTH IT ALL?

  Readers are a bit more hopeful that the U.S. victory will lead to the spread of democracy in the Middle and Far East: Some 28% think so now, vs. 21% a month ago. But more than 61% still think that isn't likely.

In retrospect, 43% say they were personally committed to the goals of the war as articulated by the Bush Administration -- the same percentage as a month ago. The percentage of readers who weren't personally committed to those goals remained essentially unchanged, at 48%.

Responding to a new question, in the latest poll some 44% of readers said it's somewhat or very likely that the invasion of Iraq will prove to have been worth its cost in terms of money spent and lives lost on both sides. That compares with 48% who said that it's somewhat unlikely or not likely at all that the war will have been worth the cost.

About 13% of those who participated in the most recent poll live outside the U.S., with the remainder spread about equally across the country. Some 38% said they voted for Bush in the last election, vs. 31% who voted for Gore and 31% who said they didn't or couldn't vote in the 2000.

Here are the complete results of the survey, which as always is unscientific since anyone who wished to could participate. (For the results of our earlier poll, see "How's the War in Iraq Going?")

How would you say the war went, from the U.S. perspective?

Option Total %  
Much better than expected 145 30.59 %
Better than expected 155 32.7 %
Neither better nor worse than expected 105 22.15 %
Not as well as expected 43 9.07 %
Not well at all 22 4.64 %
Don't know 4 0.84 %

How do you think U.S. troops did in battle?

Option Total %  
Much better than expected 145 30.59 %
Better than expected 145 30.59 %
Neither better nor worse than expected 155 32.7 %
Worse than expected 19 4.01 %
Much worse than expected 8 1.69 %
Don't know 2 0.42 %

How do you think the Iraqi troops did in battle?

Option Total %  
Much better than expected 14 2.96 %
Better than expected 39 8.25 %
Neither better nor worse than expected 88 18.6 %
Worse than expected 157 33.19 %
Much worse than expected 171 36.15 %
Don't know 4 0.85 %

How would you describe the performance 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 100 21.19 %
Better than expected 133 28.18 %
Neither better nor worse than expected 127 26.91 %
Worse than expected 56 11.86 %
Much worse than expected 46 9.75 %
Don't know 10 2.12 %

At this point, how likely do you think it is that the U.S. will uncover Iraqi weapons of mass destruction?

Option Total %  
Very likely 104 21.99 %
Somewhat likely 79 16.7 %
As likely as not 56 11.84 %
Somewhat unlikely 79 16.7 %
Very unlikely 153 32.35 %
Don't know 2 0.42 %

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

Option Total %  
Very likely 51 10.83 %
Somewhat likely 102 21.66 %
As likely as not 85 18.05 %
Somewhat unlikely 93 19.75 %
Very unlikely 139 29.51 %
Don't know 1 0.21 %

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

Option Total %  
Very likely 86 18.22 %
Somewhat likely 67 14.19 %
As likely as not 44 9.32 %
Somewhat unlikely 50 10.59 %
Very unlikely 221 46.82 %
Don't know 4 0.85 %

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 32 6.77 %
Somewhat likely 98 20.72 %
Neither more nor less likely 52 10.99 %
Not very likely 121 25.58 %
Not likely at all 166 35.1 %
Don't know 4 0.85 %

How likely do you think it is that the U.S. victory in Iraq was worth its cost in terms of money spent and lives lost on both sides?

Option Total %  
Very likely 145 30.53 %
Somewhat likely 64 13.47 %
Neither more nor less likely 30 6.32 %
Somewhat unlikely 53 11.16 %
Not likely at all 176 37.05 %
Don't know 7 1.47 %

In retrospect, how committed would you say you were personally to the goals of the war as articulated by the Bush Administration?

Option Total %  
Very committed 139 29.2 %
Somewhat committed 64 13.45 %
As committed as not 38 7.98 %
Not very committed 54 11.34 %
Not committed at all 177 37.18 %
Don't know 4 0.84 %

Where do you live?

Option Total %  
Northeast 108 22.78 %
Midwest 78 16.46 %
South 86 18.14 %
Southwest 41 8.65 %
West 98 20.68 %
Outside the U.S. 63 13.29 %

Who did you vote for in the last Presidential election?

Option Total %  
Bush 174 37.74 %
Gore 145 31.45 %
Didn't/couldn't vote 142 30.8 %
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