Five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Bree Tease is trying to balance the obligations she feels to Iraqis and to the children whose needs she sees every day in her fourth-grade class.
"Over here, there are so many ways we could use that money," the teacher, 27, says. "But then I think about the poor families and children in Iraq, and they didn't do anything wrong." If U.S. troops withdraw, Iraq could fall into chaos. So should they stay? "You have to leave at some point," she says, uncertain over when.
Her frustration is repeated around the table when a dozen Delaware residents of various political bents gathered one evening last week to talk about the Iraq war with USA TODAY. As the fifth anniversary of the invasion approaches next week, their conversation mirrors a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll that finds attitudes toward the nation's deadliest conflict since Vietnam threaded with crosscurrents -- particularly among those who want to set a firm timetable to pull out U.S. troops.
The survey finds the 40% of Americans who want to stay the course in Iraq are relatively united -- confident the invasion was justified and the consequences of withdrawing too soon disastrous.