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You've lost the troops, sir.
February 28, 2006 12:15 PM   Subscribe

US Troop poll results in: 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately. In other news, 58% of Americans think the troops should stay. Back to the troops: 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.”
posted by caddis (74 comments total)

 
wow.
posted by delmoi at 12:19 PM on February 28, 2006


Dear lord...
posted by Jezztek at 12:21 PM on February 28, 2006


Not really our best and brightest, sadly.

Also, it's somewhat disingenuous to argue that since the troops think we should leave, we should leave, while also pointing out how little comprehension many of them have for why we are there. Not that you're necessarily doing that, caddis, but I've seen it done many times in many places.
posted by billysumday at 12:22 PM on February 28, 2006


The consensus of my family and friends who are on active duty and are now serving or have served in Iraq is that we fucked up by pulling resources from Afghanistan.
posted by 2sheets at 12:25 PM on February 28, 2006


So 85% of the troops have no idea why they're there. That's pretty fucking scary. I guess that's not much different than the US public in general, so maybe it's not that surprising.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:28 PM on February 28, 2006


Wellnow...if anything, it should prove a source of discomfort for the magnetic-ribbon brigade.

"Support our troops!"

"Yes, but they want to come home now."

"Support them!"

"That means leaving Iraq and ending the war...you know...that cutting and running you accused the dems of..."

"Well...um...."

"They're towing your double-parked H2."

I know - this is just as disingenuous, and hyperbolic for my own amusement, as the arguments that billysumday mentions. But I have never gotten over the feeling that so much of the "Support Our Troops" fervor stems from guilt over memories of Vietnam. And now that there is evidence of some dissension, well...are they really supporting the troops...or the decision to put them there in the guise of supporting the troops.

I'd like to bring em all home, personally.
posted by TeamBilly at 12:28 PM on February 28, 2006


Indeed; one might say that we fucked up by "pulling resources from Afghanistan"...back in 1989, after the Soviets left.
posted by weirdoactor at 12:30 PM on February 28, 2006


Funny, though. There are ads running in our local television market saying that the troops supprt the war "almost to the man" and that they "overwhelmingly" support the mission there. The ads all show Iraq vets and their families speaking in support of the war, and linking it directly with al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks.

The ads was created by the America Voter Fund, an affiliate of Progress for America, and were linked to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad campaign.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:33 PM on February 28, 2006


the feeling that so much of the "Support Our Troops" fervor stems from guilt over memories of Vietnam

Actually, I think it's a totally cynical exploitation of a post-Vietnam guilt that doesn't really seem to exist anymore. The idea that "there was a time when we didn't appreciate our troops" is used to smear anyone who speaks ill of the Commander-In-Chief. Nevermind that in doing so, one is really supporting the troops, and by arguing for endless, pointless war, one is abusing the troops. The people with the yellow ribbons don't have them out of guilt for spitting on soldiers in the '70s, they have them because it's a convenient way to disingenuously manipulate the debate about the Iraq war.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:33 PM on February 28, 2006


I'm not sure we did, totally, weirdoactor. Hasn't the CIA run that cash-for-Stingers program for a long time? (since '89) Or was that based out of Pakistan? I don't recall.
posted by TeamBilly at 12:34 PM on February 28, 2006


I don't think there's anything disingenuous in pointing out the discrepancy between their assesment of the situation on the ground in Iraq, v.s. the geopolitical machinations that got us stuck over there.

They're soldiers, not politicians. Knowing what the situation is on the ground is within their bailiwick. Further, they've been told by the Administration, as we all have, but the troops even more so, that there was a direct connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

However, no amount of smoke blown up their ass about us "winning the war" in Iraq is going to fool them - they're up to their necks in that shitstorm every day.

They don't have to eat the whole turd to know it ain't no crabcake.
posted by stenseng at 12:36 PM on February 28, 2006


John Kerry Purple Heart Band-Aids, anybody?
posted by matteo at 12:37 PM on February 28, 2006


discomfort for the magnetic-ribbon brigade.
...
"They're towing your double-parked H2."


I think you got your small-minded jackass cliches a little mixed there. I believe the sneering arrogant insult of the "magnetic-ribbon crowd" is typically applied in your echo chamber to rednecks who have the ribbons on their pickup trucks next to their slave-loving confederate flag. The asshole corporate suck-dogs driving H2 and ruining the environment is a different masturbatory insult.
posted by dios at 12:37 PM on February 28, 2006


to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks

Maybe they haven't read the 9/11 Commission Report, but shouldn't they listen to the Commander in Chief?

to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq

Considering that the Bush administration passed up three chances to kill Zarqawi before the war, and he was based in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq outside of Saddam's control, Bush was protecting Al Qaeda more than Saddam was.

Zarqawi wasn't even part of al Qaeda before the war. He renamed his group "Al-Qaeda in Iraq" in 2004.

When we do leave Iraq, our veterans can look forward to health care cuts.

Meanwhile, a recent CBS News poll has President Bush's approval rating is at 34%, an all-time low.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:40 PM on February 28, 2006


Guys, don't you remember? George Bush doesn't listen to opinion polls. Duh.
posted by NationalKato at 12:42 PM on February 28, 2006


dios, you ought to know that someone posted a couple of really cool FPPs using your account while you were on vacation.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:42 PM on February 28, 2006


Nope, lots of real live rightwing jagoffs driving H2s covered in yellow ribbons out here in North Idaho. I see literally hundreds every day, and there is (at least in my neck of the woods) a demonstrably inverse proportion between motor vehicle fuel economy and number of magnetic ribbons.

Nothing masturbatory about it, it's a real deal phenomenon.

Sorry to deny you your dudgeon of derisive dismissal, Dios.
posted by stenseng at 12:44 PM on February 28, 2006


I have a relative who was on the ground in Grenada (as a med student) many years ago, and she said the same thing about the soldiers she met during Reagan's little chest-thumping invasion: none of them knew why they were there. Yet there they were, using tourist maps to figure out where to drop their bombs.
posted by kozad at 12:44 PM on February 28, 2006


I hope they're not really as stupid as that makes them sound. 'Cause if they are... maybe we don't want 'em home. Sure - get 'em out of harm's way! Absolutely! Pull 'em out of Iraq, if that's your politics. But I hear Darfur could use some peacekeepers. And Italy probably needs a good scrubbing down after the Olympics...

Oh, well. You know they're gonna bring 'em all back, anyway. For midterm elections. It's the only way the Republicans stand a chance.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:45 PM on February 28, 2006


"I see literally hundreds every day,"

(magnetic ribbons, not h2s. I only see five or ten of those a day. Magnetic ribbons I see on Explorers, Excursions, F250s, Escalades, etc.)
posted by stenseng at 12:46 PM on February 28, 2006


lol @ FoB

I didn't really expect much else. Have you all watched Gunner Palace? Those kids don't know what they're doing, except for, "It's really hot here and there's spiders." "Some of these guys were really bad." and "My boss says I have to arrest this guy."

No disrespect to the troops - but I wonder if you asked many Vietnam troops what they were doing there during the war - if they'd have more of an answer than, "Stop the communists."

My dad fought in Vietnam and he always used to say, "Soon after I arrived I had several South Vietnamese buddies. I was there fighting for them."

It seems like maybe that's the same sort of dynamic that's going on here.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:47 PM on February 28, 2006


OMG GAY Adoption???!!! Get them away from our babies!!!! OMG VOTE GOP!!!!!!
posted by The Jesse Helms at 12:48 PM on February 28, 2006


Wow. Dios comes out punching.

In the meanwhile, the idea that antiwar queals antitroops is useful for prowar types, but the idea that Vietname protestors spit on returnign soldiers is unsubstantiated.. It's one of those useful little lies used to bully antiwar Americans by making previous antiwar activists seem like assholes.

In fact, quite a number of anti-Vietnam activists were, and are, veterans themselves. And, at this point, I personally believe the only way to be pro-troops is by being opposed to this war.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:48 PM on February 28, 2006


mmm crabcakes
posted by If I Had An Anus at 12:49 PM on February 28, 2006


Ack. Meant to provide link to Gunner Palace.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:49 PM on February 28, 2006


Make sure you watch it, btw. It's good.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:50 PM on February 28, 2006


Whoah, lost part of my posts there. The idea that antiwar protestors spit on reutning soldiers, it should say.

Don't know whatthafuck happened there.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:51 PM on February 28, 2006


Um, Dios?

It was "hyperbolic and amusing" - what I am most earnestly trying to understand right now is whether or not your post was intended as same amusing hyperbole, or if you're being...bitchy. It reads both ways to me.
posted by TeamBilly at 12:52 PM on February 28, 2006


It was intended to do nothing more than to point out the use of the small-minded cliches people use to demonize The Other.
posted by dios at 12:54 PM on February 28, 2006


The other interesting statistic from the global BBC poll was that when asked whether they thought the Iraq war had increased, decreased or had no effect on the likelihood of terror attacks around the world, 12% of the respondents said decreased and 60% said increased. My questions is, what are we fighting for?
posted by caddis at 12:55 PM on February 28, 2006


It was intended to do nothing more than to point out the use of the small-minded cliches people use to demonize The Other.

Heh.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 12:56 PM on February 28, 2006


High score.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:56 PM on February 28, 2006


As usual, you have to ask: where do these folks--those in the military--get their information from to form whatever opinions they have? From their officers? from their president? from their hometown papers and tv stations? If most of congress viewed the invasion as necessary, why should the military believe otherwise. Now, if they are changing their views, as seems the case, why would this be so?
posted by Postroad at 12:57 PM on February 28, 2006


"Soon after I arrived I had several South Vietnamese buddies. I was there fighting for them."

I've talked to friends, family, and acquaintences who served in combat, from WWII to the first Gulf War, and they've all essentially said that they fought for two reasons:

To not get killed, and to not let the guy next to you down, and get him killed.

That's it.

Why they went is a different story, often to the man, but once they were there, those were pretty much the sole motivations for fighting.

The other thing I've noticed is that for the most part, the more actual fighting and killing a man did, the less animosity he had for his former enemy later.

I've talked to guys who were navy in WWII who still to this day hate "The Japs," but they never fought them up close. Just suffered the misery of their attacks at sea.
posted by stenseng at 12:59 PM on February 28, 2006


More from the poll: "A majority of troops (53%) said the U.S. should double both the number of troops and bombing missions in order to control the insurgency."

The Pentagon is reconsidering a reduction in force this summer.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:00 PM on February 28, 2006


Ah, well...Dios, especially in light of the link Anus so aptly timed....

FWAP FWAP FWAP FWAP FWAP FWAP!

I've got some wipes for my monitor. Want me to send you some?
posted by TeamBilly at 1:00 PM on February 28, 2006


"A majority of troops (53%) said the U.S. should double both the number of troops and bombing missions in order to control the insurgency."

"Three quarters of the troops had served multiple tours and had a longer exposure to the conflict: 26% were on their first tour of duty, 45% were on their second tour, and 29% were in Iraq for a third time or more.

It sounds like those who took the poll are still committed to the idea, but getting tired. Don't forget the poll may not be representative, for good or bad.
posted by atchafalaya at 1:02 PM on February 28, 2006


The ads was created by the America Voter Fund, an affiliate of Progress for America, and were linked to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad campaign.

Y'all have way too many political advertisements on your televisions.

I think it's a big reason why your government is so pooched: too much cock-waving and not enough getting things done.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:12 PM on February 28, 2006


The problem is that 85% of our President also has no idea why we are there. The other 15% of him is taking a nap.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:12 PM on February 28, 2006


I think you got your small-minded jackass cliches a little mixed there. I believe the sneering arrogant insult of the "magnetic-ribbon crowd" is typically applied in your echo chamber to rednecks who have the ribbons on their pickup trucks next to their slave-loving confederate flag. The asshole corporate suck-dogs driving H2 and ruining the environment is a different masturbatory insult.

To the substance of the point - they're just different positions on the same team.

Regarding the masturbatory claim - He was just the upstroke. You're the downstroke. If you two get a good rhythm going maybe you can get off.
posted by srboisvert at 1:14 PM on February 28, 2006


While drunk!
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:14 PM on February 28, 2006


You know, my "while drunk" comment was directed at the president, but it works equally well with masturbation references.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:15 PM on February 28, 2006


Fox News is a good harbinger of what's to come, re: "Total Bloodshed in Iraq is a good thing."

A significant pull-out (of course, it will be called something else) has to take place by this summer, so that Republicans running in November can have their picture taken with returning troops--they've already decided that Bush at 34% is the kiss of death for their reelection hopes barring this sort of maneuver.

No doubt most of the troops have done their best to make the best out of a messed up political situation, so let's give them some credit--a good number of them are waking up to the fact that they were used in the most venal of manners by the Bush Whitehouse. Many aren't military lifers, and will have no compunctions about telling their friends and families about what they saw (think Jarhead times a few thousand, hopefully more the book than the movie). They know that they never had the number of troops nor the amount nor quality of equipment necessary to actually create a peaceful climate. Sure, there are pockets of it, but not around the areas that matter--Baghdad at the very least.

IMHO, the $64,000 is this--if American troops had just come home after Saddam was captured, and the inevitable blood-letting by the Shia upon the Sunni followed, we'd be a good couple of years into building a quasi-democratic Shiite theocracy, and one that wasn't desperate for aid, material and otherwise, from Iran. Now, the US is getting the worst of both worlds--an Iraqi government that will not even pay lip-serive to democratic impulses, and propped up on the financial (and potential military) support of Iran.

Now that the American pull-out will come in about five months regardless of the situation on the ground, expect more perverse "feel good" stories from the media--the Shiite death-squads aren't religious thugs, they're freedom fighters, darnit. The American withdrawal is a "opportunity for democracy," etc. Really sad, and really pathetic. But the numbers in this FPP give me some hope that Americans, soldiers and otherwise, will wake up from their post-9/11 daydream re: nation-building, something that Clinton reviled for. I believe it was Santayana who said history can be a motherfucker for hypocrites, or something like that.
posted by bardic at 1:18 PM on February 28, 2006


(Thanks for the link kirkaracha. But the decisions in Iraq were never made by the military and never will be.)
posted by bardic at 1:21 PM on February 28, 2006


It's amazing how out of touch both the American government and the American chattering classes in the media are with American sentiment.

Most Americans think Iraq was a mistake. Most Americans think Bush lied about Iraq. Most people think we are going the wrong direction. Most people don't trust Bush to lead correctly, on Nat. Sec. or otherwise. Now, we find that a very strong majority of the troops in Iraq just want to get the hell out of Dodge.

And yet, all of these positions are considered freakishly fringe by the US gov't and the US media.

Hmm.
posted by teece at 1:21 PM on February 28, 2006


Semi-related: New Yorker profile of John Zogby (the pollster behind this report).
posted by unmake at 1:31 PM on February 28, 2006


Fox News is a good harbinger of what's to come, re: "Total Bloodshed in Iraq is a good thing."
And Fox News is the only newschannel on most bases abroad, according to what i've heard and read.

Why do our troops hate our troops so much? It's really pathetic that the majority of the country and the majority of the troops know that we should leave, yet the criminals in the White House and Pentagon are determined to "stay the course" (at least until they've ensured we own all the oil there).
posted by amberglow at 2:10 PM on February 28, 2006


85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks”

I support our dumb troops.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:10 PM on February 28, 2006


Imagine how pissed off they'll be when they find out the truth.
posted by carter at 2:20 PM on February 28, 2006


Please don't denigrate the armed forces serving overseas as necessarily being stupid, just because they believe something is false. They're not exactly being showered with information. Most of them have NO access to television, NO internet access, NO radio access, VERY LIMITED telephone access. They get letters. Paper letters. That's it. The occasional ones you hear about lounging around with wireless internet, surfing Metafilter, are very much the exception. People at the high-level headquarters may have such perks, and high-level headquarters are where the reporters go, but it's grossly unrepresentative of the average U.S. soldier on deployment.

As such, you can't really expect them to be up on the latest tidbits that show Bush was lying about this or that. They hear what is passed down to them through the chain of command, and they get whatever clippings their parents send them from newspapers. They may be able to watch some TV news - CNN - from time to time. That's their only source of news. Nations could disappear from the earth and they would not know it unless their platoon commander knew and thought it important to tell them, or their parents mention it, or it was a lead story on CNN.

Try asking Saddam Hussein - who has also been kept incommunicado for the past few years - what's going on in the world. He doesn't know either.

I want to know why Zogby is asking a poll question with a false premise: "While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,”" Isn't this push-polling?
posted by jellicle at 2:24 PM on February 28, 2006


Maybe what the troops really mean is that they are fighting for the things that we don't know that we don't know?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:35 PM on February 28, 2006


jellicle is right about troops access to information, I'm sure.

Also remember that a big chunk of these troops are 18 to 22 year olds that probaly weren't avid news junkies before they sigend up. After they signed up, they get limited access to information, strict rules about their ability to dissent, and an officer corp strongly in line with the Bush White House propaganda.

That said, I'm sure this poll will be the precursor to a whole round of COs having a stern talking to with their troops about volunteering any information to anyone, anonymous or not. It's the natural response in this day and age — if a certain fact discredits your mission, make sure that fact goes away.
posted by teece at 2:38 PM on February 28, 2006


Here's something a soldier wrote in his journal recently. He's in his 30's and has already served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'd link to him, but he doesn't want the heat, as lots of webloggers are getting cracked down on.
-------------------------

...I felt more than a little taken back today when i walked into the transition office today and mr. walker, one of the counselors there, looked at me and quite simply said "it’s here."

i looked at him and asked, "what’s here?"

"stop-loss," he said.

"you’re kidding?" I replied. "did you get an email stating as much?"

"no," he answered. "i found out after transition finance reported several individuals who were on orders had had their ETS3 extended out."

"say what?" i asked?

he replied, "what’s your social security number?"

i gave it to him and he pulled up my enlisted records brief (ERB4).

when my record came up on his computer monitor we both leaned over and peered at the ETS date which, up to today, had reported my ETS date as being may 15, 2006. however, there, in black & white, my ERB reported my new ETS date as being september 30, 2007!!

i could hardly believe it. after everything i'd done; after all the hoops i'd jumped through; in spite of MILPER 05-303 - which states "Soldiers assigned to alerted units whose date of separation (e.g., ETS, ESA, approved retirement) or assignment report date is inside of the SL/SM window are affected; therefore, Soldiers (not otherwise exempted) should be advised to not take any PCS/ Separation actions (e.g., shipment of household goods, transition leave, leave enroute in conjunction with PCS, clear the installation transition center) until an HRC exception to policy is approved" – i thought i might actually get out of here given how close i was... i mean, i was down to 50 days!! five-oh days!! ::ugh:: so close, but still so far.

so there you have... as of today, i am officially stop-lossed. put another way, i've just been told i have to serve in king george’s army another nineteen months or go to jail. how's that for democracy? i can fight for it, but i don't get to live it. ::geezus:: even vietnam draftees didn’t have to spend as much time on active duty. they were drafted for twelve months, did their combat tour, and went home when it was all said and done.

. . . . as if stop-lossing my ass yesterday wasn't bad enough, today a most meddlesome staff sergeant, who isn't even in my company, assigned me a roommate (i've been without for the last two months since my last one got out of the army). but its not having a roommate that's such a problem; i'm used to that. it's that they put an 18-year old private in my room!! and to exasperate matters, the fucking kid suffers from epilepsy!! that's right... epilepsy. he isn't even supposed to be in the army, let alone in my room!
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:40 PM on February 28, 2006


Also, it's somewhat disingenuous to argue that since the troops think we should leave, we should leave...

To put it bluntly, I think the real argument is "85% of the troops believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11, and 72% still think we should get the fudge out."

I wonder what that number would be if the 85% realized why we are really there.
posted by davejay at 2:58 PM on February 28, 2006


I don't even know why they're really there. Oil? A neocon domino theory about spreading democracy in the Middle East? Because Saddam wanted to kill Bush's father? An administration so incompetent that they actually believed there were weapons of mass destruction, even though they themselves had manipulated the data to make it look that way?

Why the fuck do we fight?
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:03 PM on February 28, 2006


jellicle: the AFN tv schedule shows far more FOX than any other network--just today from noon til midnight, the AFN News channel is showing 5 hours of FOX alone, with the remaining 7 hours spread among all the other networks.
posted by amberglow at 3:16 PM on February 28, 2006


"I don't even know why they're really there"

That's because the administration has long since stopped giving us a new reason, as the old reasons are proven to be false. For quite some time the only justification given for the war is that it's part of the global war on terror. Somewhere along the line a synapse must have fired and they realized using specifics, about anything, was a good idea for them.

This administration is good at shooting things. Explaining why they shoot things? Not so much.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:25 PM on February 28, 2006


jellicle writes "Please don't denigrate the armed forces serving overseas as necessarily being stupid, just because they believe something is false. They're not exactly being showered with information. Most of them have NO access to television, NO internet access, NO radio access, VERY LIMITED telephone access. "

This shouldn't be an excuse for believing that Sadaam was involved in 9/11. The mendacity of that statement should've been clear before the war started. I don't even know how one would come to believe such a thing - listening to right wing radio or some pro-war whisper campaign, I suppose. However, your point may apply to those who believe we are at war because Sadaam was protecting Al-Qaeda.
posted by mullacc at 3:30 PM on February 28, 2006


How is that push polling? Push Polling is not even polling, it's a deliberate attempt to smear.

Example of Push Poll: "If it was revealed that John McCain fathered a baby of mixed race out of wedlock, would you be more inclined, or less inclined to support him?"

The respondents in Zogby's poll were provided multiple answer options, they weren't merely forced into a visceral reaction by a closed ended question.
posted by prodigalsun at 3:32 PM on February 28, 2006


Just because the troops don't "know stuff" doesn't mean they're stupid. Like dogs. Just because dogs can't do math, it doesn't mean they're stupid. It only means they haven't been taught math properly.

85% think that the war is retaliation for Saddam's role in 9/11 = stoopid. There's no two ways about it.
posted by billysumday at 3:36 PM on February 28, 2006


Imagine how pissed off they'll be when they find out the truth.
posted by carter at 5:20 PM EST on February 28 [!]


Indeed. Terrorism and fresh recruits for terrorism are sharply on the rise as a result of this war, and ironically, a significant amount of the increase is within Iraq itself.

I imagine they'll be flabbergasted. Is there any chance of a fresh from Vietnam backlash by the soldiers?
posted by juiceCake at 3:49 PM on February 28, 2006



posted by kirkaracha at 3:49 PM on February 28, 2006


My dog does math just fine.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:59 PM on February 28, 2006


This just in: majority of Americans "finally coming around" to the fact that the Earth is round.

"I don't like it, but I guess those smarty-pants were right all along," said a local bar owner. "Oh well," he added.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:01 PM on February 28, 2006


Imagine how pissed off they'll be when they find out the truth.

Unless there is a sea change in the American psyche, carter, I don't think most soldiers will ever come around to believing the truth about Iraq. It's too painful (that their comrades might have died for nothing), and too disruptive to their world view and raison d'être (that their country and leader would lie straight to their face and send them to die).

That sort of mass (although not universal) awakening in Vietnam has too many negative connotations for Americans today. Better to be ignorant.

Most Americans seem to be quite happy not knowing the truth.
posted by teece at 4:09 PM on February 28, 2006


teece, I see your point but I think your analysis is a bit uncharitable. There was a moving piece on All Things Considered recently about a kid who just got back. The gist was not at all black or white, but incredibly ambiguous--the guy comes from an admittedly military, pro-war, pro-Bush family, and he simply can't or won't talk to them about what he saw in Iraq. He repeated several times the fact that no one who hasn't served will ever be able to relate to his own experience. It was the definition of alienation. His life is changed forever, as are the lives of his friends, family, and anyone who ever meets him.

I couldn't find the link to the piece (I believe it's an ongoing series), but there was this: 35% of vets are seeking mental healthcare.
posted by bardic at 4:24 PM on February 28, 2006


"Is there any chance of a fresh from Vietnam backlash by the soldiers?"

Many soldiers I know who are back from Iraq feel very frustrated about how things have gone, but really, they don't have much of a voice.

The level of public support for protests is very, very low, even though most people oppose the war. As a result, there is a lack of good public forums for veterans to speak out against the war.

Also, the percent of the population actually over in Iraq or Afghanistan is very low, as we no longer have the draft. This means that soldiers are being kept in the military longer, in many cases not of their own free will, and simply cannot speak out without having their lives ruined.

In other words, less people able to complain, even though they're going through two, three, or even four deployments to war zones... which is exactly the way that the Bush administration likes it.

The soldiers are expendable. God help them when they return, becuase we can't count on the government to do it.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:40 PM on February 28, 2006


I think we should definitely base foreign policy on what the troops think. Because hey, they're all about making careful, measured analyses of complex political situations and moral issues and then acting accordingly.
posted by Decani at 4:41 PM on February 28, 2006


You know, I'd like to point out that even though most troops don't have an idea of the big picture, in this case, many troops are National Guard.

In other words, there is literally no reason for them to be there. They are for protection and preservation of our national resources. They are being misused in the most egregious way so that the republicans can run two wars without a draft, because they know noone in this country would put up with a draft for nation building.

So, y'know, they might have reason to think they shouldn't be there. On the other hand, they get to back afterwards as mercenaries for four times the pay, so there's that.....
posted by lumpenprole at 5:46 PM on February 28, 2006


Two things Decani - First, I don't think anyone in this thread is trying to say we should base our foreign policy on "what the troops think". Second, it might be a good idea to have an ear to the troops thoughts about a war. There have been a few references to Vietnam in this thread - might have been a good idea then.
posted by batou_ at 6:31 PM on February 28, 2006


Mystery Pollster on the Zogby poll.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:35 PM on February 28, 2006


Iraq's worst week -- and Bush's
posted by homunculus at 9:29 PM on February 28, 2006


“This shouldn't be an excuse for believing that Sadaam was involved in 9/11. The mendacity of that statement should've been clear before the war started.”

Well... there are reasons to believe that Sadaam was protecting Al-Qaeda as well as his potential involvement in 9/11...

When we fought him in Kuwait he was completely outclassed. But he did have 350,000 well equipped and seasoned troops so he could make moves. After he got his ass handed to him, he couldn’t field more than - say - 100,000 troops total.
Given that he was still an enemy of the U.S. - what’s his next move? Just give up? Or would he try asymmetric warfare?

Broomfield spoke to the House of Reps in 1990 (oddly enough Sept. 11 of 1990) about terrorism as another weapon for Hussein and cited his friendship (Saddams) with Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, and Abu Iyad - Hussein’s move to let Arafat and the PLO hang out in Baghdad, Ahmad Jabril and his group (popular front for the liberation of Palestine) was invited to open shop in Baghdad even though his best buddies (Syria and Iran) hated Iraq at the time.

Implausible that he was making headway? Yes. Impossible that he was trying? No.

I see no evidence of Hussein’s involvement in 9/11, but I don’t think it is on the face of it given the evidence at the time an obvious impossibility.

It’s obvious he was trying. It’s also fairly obvious he wasn’t getting anywhere, mostly because he was an asshole. But it’s hard to say no to anyone no matter how big an asshole they are to anyone pushing large amounts of money in your face and offering themselves as a patron, so - maybe.

I won’t argue that the administration was misleading and used this issue politically though.
And again - I agree that Saddam’s involement was extremely unlikely if you know anything about the situation, but many people don’t.

And of course, I don’t think it was an impossibility. I wouldn’t have given it priority, but it wasn’t completely off the table.
In retrospect of course we have no evidence it was true and plenty that it was false.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:03 PM on March 1, 2006


Smedleyman, it's entirely irrelevant that Saddam may possibly have been trying to destroy the US at the time of the invasion. It's well-documented that the invasion and domination of Iraq was a "pet project" of the PNAC neocons and Bush, and it's well-documented that this was the reason they pressed the case for war until they got the support of the American people. Floating the "Saddam is dangerous and worth this war" idea was merely an excuse.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:55 PM on March 1, 2006


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