Consider how a loss in Iraq would:
� Seriously weaken the ability of the U.S. to effectively project American power in the future and influence events in distant yet important lands.
� Spark instability in the Middle East, a region of highly strategic interest to the U.S.
� Equate to a win for Iran, Syria and their proxies who are waging wars on multiple fronts in Iraq, Lebanon and Israel.
� Amount to a win for al-Qaida and underscore a lack of U.S. resolve in the broader global war on terror and the rising threat of Islamofascism.
� Embolden dangerous regimes such as North Korea to invade their neighbors, oppress their detractors and instigate global conflagrations because they will believe America has lost its nerve.
In other words, anything short of an American victory could be seen as a non-starter. To paraphrase President Reagan, we must win and they must lose.
Most Americans understand that victory in Iraq is important. This is certainly the case for Republicans, 91% of whom see no other alternative. Most Independents (61%) see it too. But Democrats (47%) are far less convinced. This shouldn't come as a shock, considering that only 47% of Democrats are hopeful for a U.S. victory vs. 76% of Republicans.
Reasons for the Democratic disconnect run deep:
� Many have been against the Iraq War from the start, and some have supported, in one way or another, the anti-war movement.
� Even with U.S. troops on the ground and in harm's way, support among the Democratic leadership has been halfhearted at best.
� Democrats tend to treat President Bush's foreign policy initiatives the same way they treat domestic issues. Only a few Democratic leaders, such as Sen. Joe Lieberman, recognize what's at stake in Iraq and are willing to cross the party line and work toward victory. Instead, most tend to occupy themselves with investigating past mistakes, which does nothing to ensure victory or boost troop morale.
� Democrats won the midterm election on the idea of "change" and a "new direction," but the leadership has yet to offer a plan for victory in Iraq.
Perhaps most striking of all is that for Democrats the glass has always been half-empty. We didn't hear many kudos coming from them when U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein or eliminated Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. And, of course, the media tend to accentuate the Democrat point of view.
Given all these reasons, it is understandable why Democrats are not fully on board.
Iran and Syria Not Key To Victory
In contrast to recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, seeking help from Iran and Syria to stabilize Iraq is not viewed as important. The IBD/TIPP Poll found that support for such an approach is lukewarm at best.
Among all Americans, just 46% think getting help from Iran and Syria is a good idea. And, perhaps surprisingly, support does not depend as much as might be expected on who is asked. On this issue, Democrats, Republicans and Independents seem to agree (by 48%, 44% and 48%, respectively) .
Sending More Troops Has Support
But if talking to Iran and Syria is not the way to go, what is? Sending more troops has the support of more than two of five (43%) Americans � not too different from the percentage who support talking with the two regional powers.
But there's a big difference here. Among those who say that victory in Iraq is "important" for the U.S., the number jumps to 57%, compared with just 15% of those who say victory is "not important."
Clearly, among those who recognize the need for an American victory, boosting our current troop levels is much more important than talking with either Iran or Syria. And we see the same approach being favored by those who are hopeful the U.S. can win: 53% vs. just 30% of those who say the U.S. can't win.
Here again, we find that Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 2-to-1 when it comes to support for sending more troops to Iraq. For those who support a U.S. victory and believe we can achieve it, enhancing our forces is more important than seeking the assistance from Tehran or Damascus.
Gradual Withdrawal Preferred
There's also been talk of setting a timetable for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq. For the most part, however, Americans see this as a bad idea.
According to our poll, 57% agree that setting a timetable for withdrawal of troops would embolden insurgents and lead to an increase in sectarian violence.
What's more, the folly of this approach seems to be clearer among those who say victory is important (63%) than for those who don't think it's important (46%). It is also clearer to those who are hopeful the U.S. can achieve victory (63% to 47%).
So what should the U.S. do? If you ask the proverbial man on the street, the answers seem clear:
� Withdraw troops in accordance with the conditions on the ground.
� Win in Iraq because the future is at stake.
� Persevere because America is up to the challenge.
Americans have spoken. Will our leaders listen?