Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker testified before Congress Monday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Do Americans trust the top U.S. military commander in Iraq to report what’s really going on in Iraq without making the situation sound better than it is?CNN and the Opinion Research Corporation asked Americans that very question last month. The answer? 53 percent do not.
The USA Today-Gallup poll just asked the public again this month whether they thoughtGen. Petraeus's report would be independent and objective. Again, 53 percent did not.
The public is skeptical.
Petraeus sought to convince Congress Monday that the situation in Iraq is improving. He has some well known supporters of the surge echoing his sentiments. “In a short period of time, we have seen significant success,” said Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who’s also a Republican candidate for president.
The public is skeptical of that, too.
Asked whether the troop increase is succeeding in improving conditions and ending violence in Iraq, most Americans say it's not in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Monday. At the joint House Armed Services and Foreign RelationsCommittees hearing, Petraeus reported some military progress. “To summarize, the security situation in Iraq is improving,” Petraeus testified.
But few see much political progress by the Iraqi government.
"To us, it just hinges on the government doing what the government is supposed to do and that is finding a way to get a sense of an agreement that they will stop the killing and stop the ethnic violence,” said retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones, chairman of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq.
Last month, Americans were divided over whether the U.S. military is making progress in improving conditions and ending violence in Iraq (47 percent said yes, 49 percent said no). But their judgment of the Iraqi government was much harsher (69 percent saw no progress on the part of the Iraqis).
The current USA Today-Gallup poll finds the same thing: people feel the U.S. is not putting enough emphasis on finding a political solution in Iraq.
"The reason for the surge was promoted by the president and by Gen. Petraeus as creating the space for political settlements in Iraq, which have not only not happened, but we've even seen steps backward,” Rep. Janice Schakowky, D-Illinois, said.
Americans see the situation in Iraq as a political failure much more than a military failure.The U.S. military is doing its job, they feel. The Iraqi government is not.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll of 1,017 adult Americans was taken between Sept. 7-9 and has a margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.
- CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider