A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Thursday indicated fewer than half of Americans believe the United States will win the Iraq war, and 55 percent of those surveyed said it should speed up withdrawal plans.
And history seems to be repeating itself:
Bush officials bristle at the suggestion the war in Iraq might look anything like Vietnam. Yet just as today's anti-war protests recall memories of yesteryear, President Bush's own words echo those of President Johnson in 1967, a pivotal year for the U.S. in Vietnam.
"America is committed to the defense of South Vietnam until an honorable peace can be negotiated," Johnson told the Tennessee Legislature on March 15, 1967. Despite the obstacles to victory, the president said, "We shall stay the course."
After 14 Marines died in a roadside bombing on Aug. 3, Bush declared: "We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. And the job is this: We'll help the Iraqis develop a democracy."
Johnson's main arguments were much like those Bush has employed: War was justified to protect the U.S. and to encourage freedom everywhere. When faced with mounting losses on the battlefield, both presidents offered the dead as a reason to keep fighting.
"Our nation was not born easily. There were times in those years of the 18th century when it seemed as if we might not be born at all," Johnson said in a speech on Aug. 16, 1967.
"Given that background, we ought not to be astonished that this struggle in Vietnam continues," Johnson said. "We ought not to be astonished that that nation, wracked by a war of insurgency and beset by its neighbors to the north, has not already emerged, full-blown, as a perfect model of two-party democracy."
Bush, too, has compared Iraq's difficulties in determining its political future to postcolonial America's.
In his radio address on Aug. 27, Bush said: "Like our own nation's founders over two centuries ago, the Iraqis are grappling with difficult issues, such as the role of the federal government. What is important is that Iraqis are now addressing these issues through debate and discussion — not at the barrel of a gun."
Bush has often linked the security and freedom of the United States to the war in Iraq. On Aug. 4 he told reporters: "We're laying the foundation of peace for generations to come. We're defeating the terrorists in a place like Iraq so we don't have to face them here at home. And, as well, we're spreading democracy and freedom to parts of the world that are desperate for democracy and freedom."
A secure and free America was tied to the fight in Southeast Asia, Johnson maintained. "What happens in Vietnam is extremely important to the nation's freedom and it is extremely important to the United States' security," he said from the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 15, 1967.
We blew it in Vietnam, and we probably should never have gone to war in Vietnam. We're blowing it in Iraq, and we definately should never have gone to war in Iraq.