Americans are nearly evenly divided on the idea of a short-term increase in U.S. troop levels in Iraq — which President Bush is widely expected to call for when he announces his new strategy for the war later this week.
In the latest CBS News poll, 45 percent are in favor of the so-called troop "surge," while 48 percent are opposed.
However, most Americans — 55 percent — don't think a troop increase would actually help stabilize Baghdad; just 35 percent think it would.
SHORT-TERM TROOP INCREASE TO STABILIZE BAGHDAD
A majority — 59 percent — would prefer to see troop levels either reduced (30 percent) or brought to zero with a full withdrawal (29 percent).
Forty-three percent say the U.S. should keep fighting the war but with a new strategy, which is what 55 percent say the president will do. But 52 percent want the U.S. to start ending its involvement in Iraq, which only 6 percent think the president will do.
U.S. TROOP LEVELS IN IRAQ SHOULD BE…
Kept the same
Just 3 percent think the U.S. should keep fighting with the current strategy; 35 percent think Mr. Bush will stay on the same course.
Americans continue to have dim views of how the war in Iraq is going. Seven in 10 say the war is badly for the U.S., while only 28 percent say it's going well. In some good news for the president, a majority of Republicans (54 percent) now say the war is going well, up 8 points from last month.
HOW IS THE WAR GOING?
More than half of Americans (52 percent) think Iraq will never become a stable democracy, but there is less pessimism than a month ago. Forty-five percent think Iraq will someday have a stable democracy, 9 percent more than last month, though just 3 percent think that will happen in the next year or two.
Only 17 percent say the U.S. is winning the war, about the same number as say the Iraqi resistance is winning. Six in 10 say neither side is winning.
Just 23 percent approve of President Bush's handling of the war, while 72 percent disapprove.
WAS REMOVING SADDAM WORTH IT?
As for Saddam Hussein, nearly two in three Americans — 64 percent — do not believe removing the now-executed Iraqi dictator from power was worth the loss of American life and the other costs of attacking Iraq. That's the largest number ever to say ousting Saddam wasn't worth it.