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Iraq: What the Troops Say

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The Bush Gang would have us believe that every member of the US armed forces is all for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I don’t dispute that many among the troops are pro-Bush. Absolutely, there are committed soldiers who support their commander and his policies and who believe their seemingly interminable uninvited visit to another sovereign nation is justified. But there are far fewer than the White House would have us believe.

On Feb. 28, Le Moyne College’s Center for Peace and Global Studies and independent pollster Zogby released the first-ever survey of ground troops in Iraq. Get this: According to the poll, a whopping 72 percent of US soldiers surveyed say troops should leave Iraq within the next year – and 29 percent say the US should send the soldiers home right now.

James Zogby wrote about the poll’s findings on TomPaine.com (which I accessed via AlterNet).

The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58 percent of those serving in that country say the US mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42 percent said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure. Nearly nine of every 10 — 85 percent– said the US mission is “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9/11 attacks,” while 77 percent said they believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting Al Qaida in Iraq.”

Ninety-three percent said that removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for US troops being there. Instead, that initial rationale went by the wayside and, in the minds of 68 percent of the troops, the real mission became to remove Saddam Hussein.

Just 24 percent said that “establishing a democracy that can be a model for the Arab World” was the main or a major reason for the war. Only small percentages see the mission there as securing oil supplies (11 percent) or to provide long-term bases for US troops in the region (6 percent).

Eighty-five percent believe they are in Iraq to retaliate against Saddam Hussein for his role in the Sept. 11 attacks? Now, that’s scary.

On the question of dissent at home, it appears most of the soldiers understand the concept that people can have different opinions. It’s true that 37 percent of those polled consider anti-war people to be unpatriotic (and most of them are National Guard reservists), but 20 percent believe many Americans don’t believe a continued occupation will work, 16 percent think those favoring an immediate pullout oppose preemptive war, and another 15 percent say they do not believe dissenters understand the need for having US soldiers in Iraq.

Overall, it appears to me that most soldiers are deluded on the subject of recent history. And a majority, whether or not they respect us, agree with dissenters: The best way to support the troops is to bring them home soon.

The LeMoyne/Zogby survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews with 944 soldiers in Iraq. Do check it out and see for yourself how the guys and gals in harm’s way view the “war.”

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About NR Davis

  • zingzing

    hmm. numbers. how will they twist this?

  • chantal stone

    whereas i agree that its a shame that people still believe that iraq was involved with 9/11, in defense of the soldiers polled, who believed that to be the case, i have to say this:

    my husband is in the national guard and was deployed in iraq for nearly 14 months. and according to him (first hand experience here) most soldiers purposely do not follow the news and current events. its difficult enough to be away from your family for any extended period of time, especially in a shithole like iraq (his words). when you start to pay attention to the news and understand whats really going on, its near impossible to perform the job you are being paid to do if you feel like your mission is bullshit. 100% focus and dedication to the job at hand is necessary when you’re working in a place where around nearly every corner, there is someone waiting to kill you.

    of course there are plenty of cases where someone may not be very bright, but for the large majority, the soldiers serving in iraq, and afghanistan also, are highly intelligent, but choose to remain ignorant to the facts about this war because they simply can not be distracted by politics in order to stay alive and get the job done.

  • MCH

    Great article, Ms. Davis, thanx. I believe that even more of our troops over there would voice their opposition to this failed invasion/occupation if they felt they could speak without retaliation.

  • MCH

    “The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58 percent of those serving in that country say the US mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42 percent said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure. are unsure.”

    Now that’s pretty telling, Ms. Davis, that almost HALF are unclear about their mission.

  • MCH

    Ms. Davis;

    For related opinions, see the Iraq Veterans Against the War website, at http://www.ivaw.net/

    Here’s one veteran’s response to GW Bush’s State of the Union Address.

    By Tim Goodrich, Iraq Veterans Against the War

    “President Bush, as a co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War, I feel that your State of the Union address left many unanswered questions, particularly regarding the war in Iraq. Although you spoke of your grand plan for victory in Iraq, I would like to know exactly what the plan is. Clearly, it hasn’t worked so far and it isn’t working now. In the past three years, the number of attacks per day in Iraq has increased and the war is no closer to being finished now than when it started. There have been more than 2,240 dead and 16,400 Americans wounded. This doesn’t take into account those who have returned and faced an under funded Veterans Administration, homelessness, or post traumatic stress disorder. For a real victory plan, the best course of action would be an immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. Our continued presence only serves to fuel terrorism, not defeat it. Not only would an immediate withdrawal prevent the unnecessary deaths of more of our country’s honorable military personnel, but it would also increase the security of our nation by allowing our troops to do what they signed up for; defending the country. Mr. Bush, even the conservative (and now broken) military has grown tired of your deceit, lack of planning, and arrogance. Your job as President is to serve the people. It’s time to heed their call and bring the troops home.”

  • Actually, I’ve done some recent writings at my site focusing on soldiers’ thoughts about this whole thing. And I’m quite familiar with Iraq Veterans Against the War and their Web site; met with a number of them at a peace rally in Boston last year. Great guys.

  • tommyd

    72% of American troops think we should leave Iraq!!! Why do they hate America, the FoxNews couch potato generals will ask!!

  • Tommyd, that 72% think we should leave IRAQ after their job is done, not immediately. The number who thing we should leave almost immediately is a third of that.

    The Pentagon has had a plan in place for gradual reductions leading to an exit by the middle of 2007 for more than a year, so the troops expecting something like that isn’t exactlya surprise.


  • MCH

    Actually, that’s 72 percent “within the next year,” not “when their job is done.”

    I think Nalle is so used to putting words in other people’s mouths he’s probably not even aware he’s doing it.

    And within the next year would be prior to Feb. 27, ’07 (the poll was taken this Feb. 28), not “the middle of 2007.” Besides the fact that GW Bush himself just said that the “war” would still be going on after he leaves the presidency.