WASHINGTON The Obama administration's lethal return to Iraq will test a public resolve depleted by the past decade of war.
Interviews, instant polling and the social media fire hose following the U.S. airstrikes Friday revealed deep ambivalence in a country already weary of Iraq. Certainly, the public is taking notice. By mid-Friday, four of the top 10 trending keywords on Twitter dealt with the Iraq crisis.
Congress appears sympathetic for now. Another impression is that the reservoir of public support could be exhausted quickly in the face of a religiously motivated enemy.
"It's concerning that we're opening wounds that we've already closed," the mother of a Wichita, Kan., soldier who was killed in 2005 said Friday.
She was so upset about the United States fighting again in Iraq that she didn't want her name used: "I can see what's going on over there. I don't think our presence will make any lasting impact."
The re-entry into Iraq has been unsettling for veterans, as well, said Moeed Ishrat, an Iraq war veteran and now director of outreach at Operation Sacred Trust, a Florida organization that helps homeless veterans find housing.
"This makes me uncomfortable, uneasy," Ishrat said. "It reminds you of your brothers that didn't come back."
More than seven years have passed since Sgt. Ian Anderson, the 22-year-old son of Elaine Anderson-Frazier of Overland Park, Kan., was killed by a roadside bomb near Mosul trying to bring stability to Iraq.
"This is something I have to do, Mom," she recalled him telling her when he left high school to enlist.
Today, his mother, 58 and a nurse at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., finds herself filled with conflicting emotions and thoughts.
"I know that our forces going over there is important," said Anderson-Frazier. "Global peace is in my heart. I don't want any mother to lose their child."
Various Capitol Hill lawmakers who represent the troubled voices heard around the country generally applauded the bombing of forces associated with the Islamic State.
"It takes an army to defeat an army, and I believe that we either confront (the jihadists) now or we will be forced to deal with an even stronger enemy in the future," declared Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "Inaction is no longer an option."
Another Democrat, Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, called the bombing "a prudent decision intended to protect American interests," while Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he supported the bombing and a "coordinated military strategy."
"Longer we wait, worse the situation becomes," Graham said via Twitter.
Tellingly, the congressional support included lawmakers with their eyes on a potential 2016 White House bid, such as Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who declared via Twitter that the bombing was "the right decision." The congressional sentiment was markedly different from the widespread opposition voiced last year when Obama proposed bombing Syria and many, like Rubio, voted against authorizing it.
Even with legislative support across party lines, Obama is caught in a strategic straitjacket, tightened by a public fatigue with Iraq that limits his willingness to commit forces. Fifty-five percent of U.S. residents surveyed in July said the United States does not have a responsibility to stop Iraq's continuing violence, according to the Pew Research Center.
"Just even talking about Iraq right now is exhausting," said Mississippi resident Alec Banks Jr., who spent two tours with the Marine Corps in Iraq. "It brings back some of the worst memories."
Fifty-seven percent of U.S. residents surveyed in June said the George W. Bush administration's original invasion of Iraq was a mistake, according to the Gallup Poll.