Pew has a fascinating update out today on retrospective public attitudes towards the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Their writeup of the numbers emphasizes a growing bipartisan consensus that both military interventions were ultimately unsuccessful, alongside an erosion of the once-near-universal support for the original Afghanistan war.
But something else jumped out at me in the numbers. Among Democrats and independents, there remains a sizable gap between support levels for the original Afghan and the original Iraq interventions (Democrats narrowly support the use of force in Afghanistan 48/45, while opposing the Iraq intervention 28/64; for indies, it’s similarly 47/45 for Afghanistan, 37/53 for Iraq). But Republicans support the Afghanistan engagement 61-31, and the Iraq invasion 55-33. That may just be a reflection of instinctive support of George W. Bush’s foreign policies. But now that we know there was zero connection between 9/11 and Iraq, and no imminent WMD threat, either, you have to wonder if the two military actions are merging in the minds of many Republicans as part of a generalized War With Islam that transcends the particular justifications made at the time.
Some would say it doesn’t really matter any more, but it might if another war with another Muslim country was on the table. Hmm, seems there has been talk of that lately….