April 17, 2007

A new Washington Post-ABC poll finds that 35 percent of Americans still believe the U.S. can win in Iraq. Those who don’t think the U.S. can win is put at 51 percent.

This roughly corresponds to the President’s approval rating which depending on which poll you are looking at is hovering in the low thirties.

I wonder how respondents understood that first question.

All told, do you think the United States will win or lose the war in Iraq?

Wellll…. “All told” now what does that mean? Does that mean that there would be no time/expense/troop level limits?

I’m as skeptical as the next guy but, if you told me we would send, say, 150,000 more troops to stay in Iraq another 5 years(and spent another trillion dollars) I would have to believe the situation would drastically improve, maybe even to the point where we could declare “victory.” (I’m assuming a Iraqi political solution could be wrought at some point.)

But, I doubt that is what most of that 35% had in mind.

I would have much rather seen asked something along the lines of:

Using the current plan(the surge), will the U.S. win or lose the war in Iraq?

Of course, the problem here is whether people have a basic enough understanding of that plan….

Why does this 35% matter anyway?

A profile today in the NYTimes of presidential candidate Sen. McCain gives us a clue:

[McCain] said that if the Bush administration’s plan had not produced visible signs of progress by the time a McCain presidency began, he might be forced — if only by the will of public opinion — to end American involvement in Iraq.

“I do believe that history shows us Americans will not continue to support an overseas engagement involving the loss of American lives for an unlimited period of time unless they see some success,” he added. “And then, when they run out of patience, they will demand that we get out.”

McCain is more aware of the growing impatience of the U.S. people than most. His strong stance on Iraq has cost him his frontrunner position for the Republican nomination.

He understands that just the public’s perception(misperception?) of the conflict can determine its outcome. He has blamed the media for this perception, he also blames the president.

“One of the things that I’m going to tell [President Bush], and I don’t often talk about my conversations with the president, is that the American people need to be told more often what’s happening,” he said. “Where we’re succeeding; where we’re failing; where we’ve made progress; where we haven’t, here’s the state of readiness, here’s why we continue to see suicide bombers.”

“There’s got to be more communication with the American people,” he added. “Franklin Delano Roosevelt did it.”

So is McCain a 35 percenter?

“I am not guaranteeing that this succeeds,” said Mr. McCain, who has long argued that additional troops were needed. “I am just saying that I think it can. I believe it has a good shot.”



  1. I don’t really trust polls anymore – one because the representative sample is skewed – two, because it’s amazingly difficult to ask the perfect question without charges of bias. That said – let’s say the troops did get out of Iraq. Then what?

  2. Glad you found my blog James.

    I imagine the good people at ABC and the Washington Post know a thing or two about putting together a decent poll. But if it’s 35%, 30% or 40% isn’t really the issue.

    The question I’m asking is if there can be a victory for the U.S. military in Iraq without the support of the American people.

  3. Without the support of the American people, we would have a much more difficult time doing just that. Think if you were a solider and found out that nobody supported you? How would you feel? Would you fight as hard?

  4. Although I don’t want to undervalue the importance of troop moral..I think most of the young men and women over there are professionals(and realistic enough) to not let other’s opinions of what they are doing affect their mission….

    My point is: How can a future President(even a fiercely pro-war one)continue to muster the “political capital” neccesary to not just fight but win this thing?

  5. GW Bush had claimed that Iraq is not brain-dead like Terry Shivo. He insists it is “responsive.” To make his case he called in a “specialist,” Gen. Petraeus, his subordinate!

    But GW Bush knows well that there is no prospect for victory. His goal is to hold on and avoid “pulling the plug” on Iraq before he leaves office. Anything that happens afterward will point to the new president as the “proximate cause,” not Bush. Key to this prognostic trick is that the US holds on into January. That’s why he is even abandoning his 2008 deadlines for a SOFA accord with Maliki. If Maliki forces Bush’s successor to pull out and Iraq goes sour, it’s not Bush’s fault, it’s something the next president did wrong as compared to the Bush Administration predecessor that had kept Iraq “responsive.”

    Anyone who did his third year of residency in the ICU realizes that he gets stuck intensively keeping going the vital organs of the patients that the attending physicians screwed up on the acute floors where any prospect for recovery was sacrificed to incompetence; ICU rarely results in recovery. Rather, it’s the chamber of heroic efforts until the family can be talked into “pulling the plug.” John McCain would do well to consider that fact as he might take charge of an irreversible mess. His claim that we “had,” ” have” or “will” succeed to pull off a miracle (he never settles on a tense for “victory”) can only be convincing if he traps himself claiming that Bush was an excellent physician who pulled it from death’s grasp his “surge”– for which McCain takes credit in the Washington Times!

    The facts, however, indicate that the current Bush resort to short-cuts short-shrifts prospects for stability. US forces are relying more and more on remote killing from the air, resulting in wide spread civilian deaths. A recent UN study shows that 1 in 5 Iraqi refugees left Baghdad during the Petraeus surge, having suffered as collateral damage victims or victims of killings by sectarian assassins in previously safe areas. These are the technical and skilled cram of that nation. US forces have only walled in homogenized areas, a situation that cannot stand if there is to be an Iraqi nation. Petraeus, now that he is no longer responsible for events in Iraq, stressed the reversibility of the current alleged “stable” state. But he refuses to either discuss the effects of his Israel “killer teams” aping or the disappearance of the enemy into a wider regional war expansion to all the nations in the region. The pre-surge Anbar Sunni uprising, according to
    Iraq Gov intel, has turned into a safe base for the insurgents and the Iraqi Gov is going after its leaders as if they were still insurgents. At the same time, Maliki has put forward a SOFA concept that no US President can accept; Maliki won’t budge, only offering us a chance to hasten our departure. What is clear is that the Iraq War has become much more complicated, involving all the nations in the region as advisers, supporters and funders for the various factions. To speak of alQaeda in Iraq now is to extent what EJ Dionne so rightly said about the Bush Administration: ” It is on A LONG VACATION FROM COMPLEXITY.”

    The surge is a tourniquet applied north of a cut in the artery that incompetent command carelessly made. The artery feeds an entire limb– our military– and if we do not repair the artery the Green Machine will go gangrene because we cannot keep sending soldiers into combat for repeated tours. On average soldiers in Iraq are about 5 years older than in Vietnam. Thus, casualties leave widows and orphans or families that must forever take care of disabled injury survivors who originally expected to take care of their families.

    This nation has lived on lies and that it has done so for so long allows John McCain to justify to himself the deception that he and his friends Senators Lieberman and Graham are perpetuating. These lies may well pass accepted by the 60’s generation that since adolescence lived on illusions, be they chemical or ignorance based.

    If I thought binLaden alive, I would imagine that watching videos of Sec. of Treasury Paulson mumbling in desperation and smiling saying to himself: “By the Grace of God, I can say ‘mission accomplished,'” for he has lived (???) to see America bankrupt and mired in Muslim lands, Afghanistan and Iraq, despised by all Muslims and still so disabled as to be unable to respond to Russian retaliation against Georgia and its feeding of nuclear technology to Iran. At the same time, having sought to impose a production agreement, where the US oil industry takes a 40% cut of Iraq’s oil for 35 years but alsdecideses on how much oil Iraq is to produce instead of the Iraqis, the DoS has sought to settle for a service agreement where US companies get payed for services rendered. Instead, Iraq canceleded these deals completely and made a $50 billion accord with China. Today, with the dollar so weakened by the Wall Street bail-out, oil is again rising in price. So what
    has the “surge” done other than gangrene our armed forces, stood helpless as Maliki goes after the very “Awakening” of Sunnis allied to the US, and got the militias to lay low while killers continue to– admittedly more selectively– kill eachother’s leaders at will?

    Will alQaeda get to watch America collapse on itself with various ethnic groups blaming eachother, possibly producing a Holocaust in response to the reckless and false neocon linking of Israel to our War on Terror?

    We need to finally look ahead and add things up using calculus instead of arithmetic a la Bush. The surge slowed down the deterioration of a brain-dead war pretending that it has been maintained “responsive.” It’s time to pull the plug. 9/11 would have never happened had the airlines not violated the law by leaving open the pilot’s cabin door, allowing four airliners to be seized each within ten minutes. If we stopped exaggeratingng the capabilities of alQaeda– an amorphous shibboleth– we could find a way to stop the hemorrhage of our Treasury and the gangrene of our military, not allowing Bush to pass off the inevitable consequence of his criminal negligence on his successor. Will we pull the plug or will we stay until the Iraqis kick us out?

    John McCain refuses to deal with that question as he babbles about “victory.” I find that to be treason by a man who seems to have done that before making propaganda broadcasts for Hanoi. I don’t hold against him what he was forced to do as a POW but I sure hold against him the lies he is telling about the surge in Iraq.

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