Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, a new Gallup Poll finds, the most downbeat view of the war since it began in 2003.

Patience for the war has dropped sharply as optimism about the Iraqi elections in January has ebbed and violence against U.S. troops hasn’t abated. For the first time, a majority would be “upset” if President Bush sent more troops. A new low, 36%, say troop levels should be maintained or increased.

In the Gallup Poll, 56% say the Iraq war wasn’t “worth it,” essentially matching the high-water mark of 57% a month ago.

• Of those who say the war wasn’t worth it, the top reasons cited are fraudulent claims and no weapons of mass destruction found; the number of people killed and wounded; and the belief that Iraq posed no threat to the United States.

• Of the 42% who say the war was worth it, the top reasons cited are the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, the need to stop terrorism and a desire to end the oppression of the Iraqi people. ~USA Today

The popular weariness with this war was as inevitable as the fatuous enthusiasm for it in the beginning. Because it was always an unnecessary and unjustifiable war launched in aggression and supported by deceit, the “buyer’s remorse,” if you will, was always going to come more quickly and be more intense than in previous American conflicts. The plodding, uninformed American public, as usual, goes along with most anything for a short time if its leaders claim it is patriotic and high-minded, but like a mule it reaches a point beyond which it doesn’t want to go and simply stops.

The stunning thing about these figures is that, even as uncommitted people have gradually drifted to the antiwar position and attached themselves to the roughly 30% core that has opposed the invasion from the beginning, the numbers steadfastly in support of the war have remained constant for over a year. There is a roughly 40% foundation of support for this war that seems impervious to evidence, reason, common sense and all signs that point to a colossal waste of lives, military resources and wealth. This is not surprising when we look at the reasons this bloc gives for its support: 9/11, anti-terrorism and liberating Iraqis. At least relatively few are still claiming that Iraq was on the verge of attacking us with WMDs!

9/11 obviously has no connection to the war in Iraq (that it requires saying at all is troubling), but for this crowd such a common sense view is tantamount to siding with bin Laden. In spite of Mr. Bush’s deceit about al-Qaeda connections to Baghdad, Iraq never had anything to do with anti-American terrorism (and scarcely had anything to do with terrorism at all), which makes the second point irrelevant. It is already a cliche, so obvious is it, that all terrorism in Iraq today is a result of our invasion. That leaves liberating the Iraqis as the last remotely reasonable justification for the war, and from an American perspective this has nothing to recommend it. How perfectly ironic it is that the worst of the American chauvinists and the millions of well-meaning, but apparently easily duped patriots of the heartland have been reduced to defending a policy that has no specific, pro-American reasons to be in this war. Withdrawal has clearly become the patriotic course of action. The GOP majorities would be wise to notice the changing attitude of the public on this and hasten to end the war through their power of the purse.