What do the troops think?
Tim wonders what the troops really think of the war in Iraq and President Bush’s leadership thereof, referencing an Army times poll from last December. I myself had wondered where Senator Webb had come up with his numbers for the statement
“The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought. Nor does the majority of our military.”
(BTW, I tuned in for the State of the Union as much to see his rebuttal as anything else. I was really floored when he brought out income inequality as a major issue. Not that Democrats favor equality over anything else!)
This brought me to the analysis of the Army Times poll (a Ganett publication) in the Mudville Gazette. Please read it all, bearing with whatever server problems they are having over there.
It’s true there is some ambivalence about the war and Bush’s leadership in this poll. Greyhawk found the raw data and unpacked it a bit and I think his analysis of it is well-supported. First major observation: this poll was taken before the surge was announced. Greyhawk asserts, and I agree, that a poll taken now would likely be significantly more positive. This is because
(t)hese numbers – while much more positive than results from civilian polls – probably also reflect an assumption that then-current strategy would remain constant – an assumption already proven faulty. Based on responses to the next question, the results might be even more favorable if this same question were asked today.
We currently have 145,000 troops in Iraq and Kuwait. How many troops do you think we should have there?
All responses / Iraq vets
0: 121 / 60
0-50,000: 69 / 42
50,000 – 144,000: 56 / 38
145,000: 122 / 70
146,000-200,000: 208 / 100
200,000+: 155 / 78
No opinion/don’t know: remainder
Note the largest group – both the Iraq vets and non-Iraq vets categories – favored (even prior to the announcement) an increase in troops consistent with the “surge” plan numbers.
Again, theses results were obtained prior to the announcement of the surge. “The majority of the military no longer supports the way this war is being fought” might have been an accurate statement at that time, it may be less so now. And the reasons for that lack of support might not be ones that certain members of congress want to hear.
As for the TPM Cafe post which says it was “baseless” for Bush to have asserted the troops want to stay in Iraq, I find that comment absurd. Yes, perhaps they think we should leave if we’re not going to fight to win (militarily and politically), but that in my mind could be as much a reflection of their despair over anti-war carping and defeatism from the Democrats as much as anything else. Try asking them their opinion of congress!
Wait, they did:
Well it’s only two guys. And probably “no comment” is the best answer for these types of questions.
As Greyhawk points out “Re-enlistment rates have exceeded goals for the duration of the Iraq war – so far.” That’s the real number to watch. I know there’s plenty of quotes you could pull for an opposing view but I think it’s a fantasy to say that the military doesn’t want to win. Why not just say “I want them out, I’m sorry they feel differently”.