[Marxism] Poll: More troops unhappy with Bush ¹ s course in Iraq, By Robert Hodierne Senior managing editor, ArmyTimes.com

Bonnie Weinstein giobon at sbcglobal.net
Sat Dec 30 11:53:11 MST 2006


Poll: More troops unhappy with Bush¹s course in Iraq
By Robert Hodierne
Senior managing editor, ArmyTimes.com
December 29, 2006
http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-2449372.php

The American military ‹ once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the
Iraq war ‹ has grown increasingly pessimistic about chances for victory,
according to the 2006 Military Times Poll..

For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president¹s handling of
the war than approve of it. Barely one-third of service members approve of
the way the president is handling the war.

When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war ‹ in 2004 ‹ 83
percent of poll respondents thought success in Iraq was likely. This year,
that number has shrunk to 50 percent.

Only 35 percent of the military members polled this year said they approve
of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they
disapproved. The president¹s approval rating among the military is only
slightly higher than for the population as a whole. In 2004, when his
popularity peaked, 63 percent of the military approved of Bush¹s handling of
the war. While approval of the president¹s war leadership has slumped, his
overall approval remains high among the military.

Just as telling, in this year¹s poll only 41 percent of the military said
the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65
percent in 2003. That closely reflects the beliefs of the general population
today ‹ 45 percent agreed in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll.

Professor David Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military
Organization at the University of Maryland, was not surprised by the
changing attitude within the military.

³They¹re seeing more casualties and fatalities and less progress,² Segal
said.

He added, ³Part of what we¹re seeing is a recognition that the intelligence
that led to the war was wrong.²

Whatever war plan the president comes up with later this month, it likely
will have the replacement of American troops with Iraqis as its ultimate
goal. The military is not optimistic that will happen soon. Only about one
in five service members said that large numbers of American troops can be
replaced within the next two years. More than one-third think it will take
more than five years. And more than half think the U.S. will have to stay in
Iraq more than five years to achieve its goals.

Almost half of those responding think we need more troops in Iraq than we
have there now. A surprising 13 percent said we should have no troops there.
As for Afghanistan force levels, 39 percent think we need more troops there.
But while they want more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly
three-quarters of the respondents think today¹s military is stretched too
thin to be effective.

The mail survey, conducted Nov. 13 through Dec. 22, is the fourth annual
gauge of active-duty military subscribers to the Military Times newspapers.
The results should not be read as representative of the military as a whole;
the survey¹s respondents are on average older, more experienced, more likely
to be officers and more career-oriented than the overall military
population.

Among the respondents, 66 percent have deployed at least once to Iraq or
Afghanistan. In the overall active-duty force, according to the Department
of Defense, that number is 72 percent.

The poll has come to be viewed by some as a barometer of the professional
career military. It is the only independent poll done on an annual basis.
The margin of error on this year¹s poll is plus or minus 3 percentage
points.

While approval of Bush¹s handling of the war has plunged, approval for his
overall performance as president remains high at 52 percent. While that is
down from his high of 71 percent in 2004, it is still far above the approval
ratings of the general population, where that number has fallen into the
30s.

While Bush fared well overall, his political party didn¹t. In the three
previous polls, nearly 60 percent of the respondents identified themselves
as Republicans, which is about double the population as a whole. But in this
year¹s poll, only 46 percent of the military respondents said they were
Republicans. However, there was not a big gain in those identifying
themselves as Democrats ‹ a figure that consistently hovers around 16
percent. The big gain came among people who said they were independents.

Similarly, when asked to describe their political views on a scale from very
conservative to very liberal, there was a slight shift from the conservative
end of the spectrum to the middle or moderate range. Liberals within the
military are still a rare breed, with less than 10 percent of respondents
describing themselves that way.

Seeing media bias

Segal was not surprised that the military support for the war and the
president¹s handling of it had slumped. He said he believes that military
opinion often mirrors that of the civilian population, even though it might
lag in time. He added, ³[The military] will always be more pro-military and
pro-war than the civilians. That¹s why they are in this line of work.²

The poll asked, ³How do you think each of these groups view the military?²
Respondents overwhelmingly said civilians have a favorable impression of the
military (86 percent). They even thought politicians look favorably on the
military (57 percent). But they are convinced the media hate them ‹ only 39
percent of military respondents said they think the media have a favorable
view of the troops.

The poll also asked if the senior military leadership, President Bush,
civilian military leadership and Congress have their best interests at
heart.

Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of those surveyed said the senior military
leadership has the best interests of the troops at heart. And though they
don¹t think much of the way he¹s handling the war, 48 percent said the same
about President Bush. But they take a dim view of civilian military
leadership ‹ only 32 percent said they think it has their best interests at
heart. And only 23 percent think Congress is looking out for them.

Despite concerns early in the war about equipment shortages, 58 percent said
they believe they are supplied with the best possible weapons and equipment.

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 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.

On many questions in the poll, some respondents said they didn¹t have an
opinion or declined to answer. That number was typically in the 10 percent
range.

But on questions about the president and on war strategy, that number
reached 20 percent and higher. Segal said he was surprised the percentage
refusing to offer an opinion wasn¹t larger.

³There is a strong strain in military culture not to criticize the commander
in chief,² he said.

One contentious area of military life in the past year has been the role
religion should play. Some troops have complained that they feel pressure to
attend religious services. Others have complained that chaplains and
superior officers have tried to convert them. Half of the poll respondents
said that at least once a month, they attend official military gatherings,
other than meals and chapel services, that began with a prayer. But 80
percent said they feel free to practice and express their religion within
the military.





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