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Majority of blacks feel war in Iraq is a failure

COLUMBIA -- Black South Carolinians overwhelmingly view the war in Iraq as a failure and think U.S. troops should be withdrawn, a new poll has found.

A majority of those who support a withdrawal of troops from Iraq think they should leave within six months, a Winthrop-ETV poll of almost 700 African-Americans in South Carolina found.

The results suggest black South Carolinians have a much more negative view than South Carolinians as a whole of President Bush's handling of the war.

In May, a Winthrop-ETV poll of S.C. registered voters of all races found 54 percent disapproved of Bush's management of the Iraq war. The poll of black South Carolinians, released Thursday night, found nearly 90 percent disapproved.

"I don't know anyone of my congregation who is in favor of (the war), honestly," said the Rev. Joseph Darby, pastor of Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, one of the largest black churches in the state. "And that's even members of my congregation who are military."

According to the poll, African-Americans are overwhelmingly convinced 82 percent the war has made the United States less safe.

A smaller majority 61 percent think the recent surge of troops to Iraq has been somewhat or very unsuccessful. About 30 percent said the surge has been very or somewhat successful.

Nancy Rivers, 34, of the Bamberg County town of Denmark, is an example of the often conflicting emotions surrounding the war.

A Democrat, Rivers thinks the war has been poorly run. But she does not favor pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. This puts her in the same category as South Carolinians as a whole rather than her fellow African-Americans in the state.

The May Winthrop-ETV poll found a slight majority 50.1 percent opposed a timetable for withdrawal.

"If we pull out now, it will be too soon," Rivers said, offering an analogy. "You come and invade my house, and you mess it all up, and then you promise you're going to clean it back up. But then you leave my house, and I'm left here to clean the mess."

A slightly smaller majority of black South Carolinians, 83.5 percent, disapprove of the president's handling of the war in Afghanistan.

That's a sharp increase over the percentage of all South Carolinians who feel the same. The May Winthrop/ETV poll found 44.6 percent of all South Carolinians approved of Bush's handling of the Afghan war and 41.4 percent disapproved.

"People early on supported the war in Afghanistan because there was a clear connection in people's minds between Sept. 11, 2001, and the Taliban in Afghanistan," said professor Adolphus Belk Jr., co-director of Winthrop University's African-American Studies department and co-author of the new poll with political scientist Scott Huffmon. "Folk were divided on going to war in Iraq."

Immediately after the Iraq invasion, support for that war and President Bush went up. But, over time, public opinion has turned against the Iraq war.

"Now, 4 years in, we see public support for the war waning," Belk said of the poll results.

Winthrop's Huffmon thinks the numbers suggest African-Americans are viewing the war through a larger prism than its effects on their own race.

"If a lot of people said, 'Yeah, African-Americans are assuming way too much of a burden,' you would assume they hate the war."

That's not happening, Huffmon said. "It's not self-interest. It's that they're really against it."

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