Thursday, January 24, 2008

Iraq War More Controversial, Partisan, than Vietnam War

In the middle of an article in the Atlantic I ran across these few paragraphs with some interesting comparisons between the wars in Vietnam and Iraq:
"We think of the Vietnam War as controversial, but it was much more controversial within the two parties than between them. The partisan gap in support for the war rarely exceeded 10 percentage points, and averaged closer to 5. The Korean conflict in the 1950s, the military action in Kosovo in the 1990s, and the use of force in Afghanistan were barely more controversial, with the parties usually only 10 to 15 points apart. Even the Gulf War, for all the Democrats’ misgivings, saw partisan disagreement averaging only about 20 percentage points.

The Iraq War has been something else again. It got off on a partisan footing, with support from virtually all of the Republicans in Congress but only a minority of the Democrats. Then it turned even more partisan. By mid-2004, the difference between Republican and Democratic public support for the war had reached about 60 percentage points. Indeed, many of the partisans were living in separate realities. In 2006 polling, only about a fifth of Democrats recalled ever having supported the war, though in fact, almost half had supported it before the invasion. Meanwhile, almost a third of Republicans thought weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, and another third said the weapons existed but hadn’t been found."

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