MilitaryCity.com, the Military Times Media Group website has a new poll up today that shows that “the American military — once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war — has grown in creasingly pessimistic about chances for victory.” This certainly doesn’t bode too well for the Bush administration, and likewise for the ‘surge’ supporting gang, who refuse to admit that things just aren’t rosy in Iraq and it’s time to change course.
For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president’s handling of the war than approve of it. Barely one-third of service members approve of the way the president is handling the war, according to the 2006 Military Times Poll.
When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war — in 2004 — 83 percent of poll re spondents 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 president’s approval rating among the military is only slight ly higher than for the population as a whole. In 2004, when his popularity peaked, 63 percent of the military approved of Bush’s handling of the war. While ap proval of the president’s war lead ership has slumped, his overall approval remains high among the military.
Equally as revealing in the poll is the finding that “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 sur prised by the changing attitude within the military.
“They’re seeing more casualties and fatalities and less progress,” Segal said.
He added, “Part of what we’re seeing is a recognition that the intelligence that led to the war was wrong.”
Whatever war plan the presi dent 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.
Editor & Publisher weighed in on the poll and noted that the Military Times reported that “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.”
UPDATE: IN THE BLOGOSPHERE — Ron points out, “It’s Bush, Not Kerry, That The Troops Really Dislike.”