Fri 25 June, 2004 05:30
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For the first time since the start of the war in Iraq, a majority of Americans now say the U.S.-led invasion was a mistake, according to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll.
Amid continuing violence in Iraq and questions about the justification for the war, 54 percent of the 1,005 Americans polled said it was a mistake to send U.S. troops into Iraq, compared with 41 percent who held that view three weeks ago.
The findings mark on Thursday the first time since Vietnam that a majority of Americans has called a major deployment of U.S. forces a mistake, USA Today reported on its Web site.
In addition, the poll found that for the first time a majority also said the war in Iraq has made the United States less safe from terrorism.
Fifty-five percent said the war has increased U.S. vulnerability, compared to a December poll in which 56 percent said the war made the United States safer.
The war's original justification was to stop Iraq deploying weapons of mass destruction. None have been fou nd.
U.S. President George W. Bush has also said the Iraq mission would make America safer by bringing democracy to a key country in the Middle East.
In Iraq on Thursday, insurgents killed about 100 people in a wave of attacks across the country aimed at sabotaging next week's transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government.
Despite Americans' changing attitudes toward the war, the poll found Bush in a statistical dead heat with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. Among likely voters, Bush edged out Kerry 48 percent to 47 percent. Three weeks ago, Kerry led 49 percent to 43 percent.
In the new poll, 60 percent of respondents said they believe the Massachusetts Democrat could handle the job of commander-in-chief, but most Americans indicated they trust Bush more in that role, 51 percent to 43 percent.
The survey, conducted Monday through Wednesday, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.