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Not Worth It: Huge Majority Regret Iraq War, Exclusive Poll Shows

Skepticism about the lengthy war effort is up substantially even in the last 18 months.
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A divided nation finally agrees on something overwhelmingly: the war in Iraq was simply not worth fighting.

Seventy-one percent of Americans now say that the war in Iraq “wasn’t worth it,” a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll shows, with skepticism about the lengthy war effort up substantially even in the last 18 months.

Just 22 percent now believe the 2003 war effort was worthwhile.

In a January 2013 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll asking the same question, 59 percent of Americans said the war wasn’t worth it, versus 35 percent who said the opposite.

Half of respondents also said that the United States does not have a responsibility to help the Iraqi government as the country descends into sectarian violence, while 43 percent said that America should intervene.

Americans are even more pessimistic about Iraq – where insurgent groups now threaten to overpower the government – than about the war in Afghanistan. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll earlier this month showed that 27 percent of respondents said the Afghan conflict was worth it, versus 65 percent who disagreed. Negativity about Iraq appears to rival that of the Vietnam War; three Gallup polls conducted from 1999-2000 found that about 7 in 10 Americans believe that 1970s war was a “mistake.”

Among diverse groups rarely in agreement on other big ticket items, skepticism about Iraq runs deep. Just 22 percent of men, 23 percent of young adults, and 21 percent of seniors say the war in Iraq was worth it.

Support for the war has dropped in almost all categories, but particularly among Republicans and conservatives. Now, Republicans are split about equally (46 percent worth it / 44 percent not worth it) on the issue.

When it comes to intervention in Iraq, “elite” groups - whites and those with higher incomes or an advanced education - were more likely to say that the U.S. has a responsibility to help stop the violence in Iraq.

The poll of 1,383 voters, conducted June 16 to June 22, has a margin of error of +/- 3.27.