February 20, 2007

Pay no attention to the little poll behind the curtain

"Do the troops feel supported by this House resolution? There are no opinion polls of military and civilian workers in Iraq, but two comments have come to my attention. One is a letter to the editor of The Washington Times from John McFarlane, a military trainer for Northrop-Grumman Technical Services in Elizabethtown, Ky. McFarlane writes that he has just returned from Iraq "after coming out of retirement to go there, I can tell you that the greatest fear of the young service members over there is that the American public will fail to pursue total victory and will leave early, thereby wasting their battle buddies' life and blood. They feel pain every time somebody pays lip service to his or her conscience with the line: 'support the troops, but not the policy.' (They) know they are the policy and that you should feel shame if you as an American would commit them to anything less than total victory." —Cal Thomas, Feb 20 2007 [emphasis added]

"An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and more than one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.... The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58% of those serving in country say the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42% said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure." —Zogby, Feb. 28, 2006

Posted by Daniel Radosh


The troops don't support the troops?

No, that's why they're always spitting on each other.

"So much for the assertion by some members of Congress that the House resolution, with the promise of more and binding ones to come, will have no affect on troop morale." - Cal Thomas

The implication is, of course, that these soldiers are so affected by the debate that it reduces their performance as soldiers. Cal should be ashamed for insisting that our troops are so weak.

If they hear that even their strongest supporters think they are weak, it will clearly hurt their morale.

OK, that last sentence was meant to be ironic.

I just read the comments on the Thomas link. How very sad. It's a relief to see the polls (of troops and non-troops) that remind me Internet wingnuts are just that, and not representative of Americans as a whole. Still, ugh. Did you send Thomas your poll stat, Daniel? Shall we await his retraction with bated breath?

I didn't send Thomas the link. People like him are immune to facts.

Hey, you're Kate Lovelady! Hi there. Look at you with short hair and all ethical and stuff. I'm working on a post about humanism that should interest you. Stay tuned.

Never trust Zogby. He gave them 4 choices:

Leave immediately,
Leave within six months,
Leave within 12 months,
Stay as long as they're need.

In other words, the only choice besides leave within a year was an indefinite commitment.

Meanwhile, read further down:

"Asked why they think some Americans favor rapid U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, 37% of troops serving there said those Americans are unpatriotic, while 20% believe people back home don’t believe a continued occupation will work. Another 16% said they believe those favoring a quick withdrawal do so because they oppose the use of the military in a pre-emptive war, while 15% said they do not believe those Americans understand the need for the U.S. troops in Iraq."

So a year ago, while 72% of troops say "End War in 2006," as the Zogby headline puts it, 68% of the troops thought that people who call for withdrawal must be pacifists, idiots, or traitors. That just doesn't add up.

I agree that there is a disconnect between when the troops say they want to withdraw and what they believe about civilians' reasons for wanting to withdraw, but since an open-ended question probably wasn't technically possible, I don't think there's a big problem with the four choices offered.

"As long as necessary" is the official government line. If you reject that, as the vast majority of the troops did, it means you place a higher priority on withdrawal than on "getting the job done," and a year seems like plenty long time to accomplish not getting anything accomplished. OK, maybe he could have given them an option of two years. That's a year from now.

What is "total victory" in Iraq and what leads anyone to believe that it can be achieved militarily?

It’s clearly a flawed poll. But it is still interesting.

Considering that the majority of the troops hold that the aim is to remove a grave threat – Saddam Hussain – it’s not odd that they might believe that the job is done. Quoting Zogby: 'While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”'

If this is true, it wouldn’t be surprising that they are ready to pack-up and go home. The low percentage who believe in Wilsonian nations-building suggests that the “social work” isn’t popular with the men and women in the field.

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