Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Troops' Support

Via the Armchair Generalist, a new poll out from the Military Times has some interesting indications about the levels of support for the Iraq war amongst America's soldiers:

It's often written or said in the media that, despite public opposition to the Iraq war here at home, military personnel strongly back President Bush's handling of the conflict. But a poll for the Military Times newspapers, released Friday, shows that more troops disapprove of the president’s handling of the war than approve of it. [...]

Barely one in three service members approve of the way the president is handling the war, according to the new poll for the four papers (Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Times). In another startling finding, only 41% now feel it was the right idea to go to war in Iraq in the first place.

And the number who feel success there is likely has shrunk from 83% in 2004 to about 50% today. A surprising 13% say there should be no U.S. troops in Iraq at all. [...]

"While President Bush always portrays the war in Iraq as part of the larger war on terrorism, many in the military are not convinced," the Military Times reported. "The respondents were split evenly — 47 percent both ways — on whether the Iraq war is part of the war on terrorism. The rest had no opinion."
Those numbers are near jaw dropping. Interestingly, though, the poll's respondents aren't exactly what you would call a group of Bush-bashing liberals. For example, some other telling responses:

This comes even though only about one in ten called their overall political views "liberal."

...Among the respondents, two in three have deployed at least once to Iraq or Afghanistan. [...]

While approval of Bush’s handling of the war has plunged, approval for his overall performance as president remains at 52%.
The margin of error for the poll is +/- 3%. If the actual sentiment in the armed forces is anywhere within earshot of that margin, one has to wonder what the appetite exists for the long term escalation plan Bush seems poised to unveil.

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