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US Troops In Iraq Say End the Occupation Within a Year

An overwhelming majority, 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year. Among Reserves 90% favor withdrawal compared to 83% of the National Guard, 70% of the Army, and 58% of the Marines. Moreover, about three-quarters of National Guard and Reserve units favor withdrawal within 6 months.

A poll by La Moyne College and Zogby of active duty troops in Iraq shows a huge disconnect between the Commander in Chief and his troops in battle. It is evident that the President views the war very differently then the troops on the ground. The loss of the troops may be the final straw in the illegal occupation turned into a failed war. The foreign policy establishment had already told the President they thought the Iraq War was a mistake. The people have been saying the war was a mistake. All that is left are President Bush and the hawkish leaders of the two parties - only they are calling for staying the course or sending more troops.

Support for rapid withdrawal in the Zogby survey of troops, three-quarters of whom had served two or more tours of duty, was even higher than among the U.S. public. A majority of the US public (almost 60%) now believes that the troops should be withdrawn this year. Moreover, almost half of the public say that the US should never have invaded and troops should be withdrawn immediately.  The view of the troops is more in accord with that of Democrat or progressive voters, 80% of whom favor rapid withdrawal. In contrast Republican voters (41%) are less inclined for withdrawal. Support for the administrations' performance in Iraq is waning among military officers as well .  

The poll also shows that the troops are confused by the mission in Iraq. Forty-two percent acknowledge their confusion. And, while 58% think they know why they are there in fact they are acting on inaccurate information. When troops are asked why they are in Iraq, 85% said it was "to retaliate for Saddam's roll in the 9-11 attacks" - when in fact Sadam had no role in 9-11. And, 77% of soldiers thought it was "to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq" - again Sadam and al Qaeda were never allies, indeed they were enemies, the latter secular and the former religious.

The troops have figured out that they are not there for the reason stated by the President - 93% recognize they are not there to remove weapons of mass destruction. The vast majority (76%) also do not believe that the United States is establishing a democracy that can be a model for the Arab world. But they do not accept that securing oil was the major purpose - only 11% accept that rationale.

Sadly, the Pentagon dismissed the findings saying "It shouldn't surprise anybody that a deployed soldier would rather be at home than deployed." And, "I don't think anybody is getting alarmed over any one poll."  The message they are sending to the soldiers is that their commanders are not listening to the troops on the ground.

The Zogby Poll

Released: February 28, 2006

U.S. Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End War in 2006

  • Le Moyne College/Zogby Poll shows just one in five troops want to heed Bush call to stay "as long as they are needed"
  • While 58% say mission is clear, 42% say U.S. role is hazy
  • Plurality believes Iraqi insurgents are mostly homegrown
  • Almost 90% think war is retaliation for Saddam's role in 9/11, most don't blame Iraqi public for insurgent attacks
  • Majority of troops oppose use of harsh prisoner interrogation
  • Plurality of troops pleased with their armor and equipment

An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and more than one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.

The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College's Center for Peace and Global Studies, showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq "immediately," while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay "as long as they are needed."

Different branches had quite different sentiments on the question, the poll shows. While 89% of reserves and 82% of those in the National Guard said the U.S. should leave Iraq within a year, 58% of Marines think so. Seven in ten of those in the regular Army thought the U.S. should leave Iraq in the next year. Moreover, about three-quarters of those in National Guard and Reserve units favor withdrawal within six months, just 15% of Marines felt that way. About half of those in the regular Army favored withdrawal from Iraq in the next six months.

The troops have drawn different conclusions about fellow citizens back home. Asked why they think some Americans favor rapid U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, 37% of troops serving there said those Americans are unpatriotic, while 20% believe people back home don't believe a continued occupation will work. Another 16% said they believe those favoring a quick withdrawal do so because they oppose the use of the military in a pre-emptive war, while 15% said they do not believe those Americans understand the need for the U.S. troops in Iraq.

The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58% of those serving in country say the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42% said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure. While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks," 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was "to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq."

"Ninety-three percent said that removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for U.S. troops being there," said Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International. "Instead, that initial rationale went by the wayside and, in the minds of 68% of the troops, the real mission became to remove Saddam Hussein." Just 24% 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%) or to provide long-term bases for US troops in the region (6%).

The continuing insurgent attacks have not turned U.S. troops against the Iraqi population, the survey shows. More than 80% said they did not hold a negative view of Iraqis because of those attacks. About two in five see the insurgency as being comprised of discontented Sunnis with very few non-Iraqi helpers. "There appears to be confusion on this," Zogby said. But, he noted, less than a third think that if non-Iraqi terrorists could be prevented from crossing the border into Iraq, the insurgency would end. A majority of troops (53%) said the U.S. should double both the number of troops and bombing missions in order to control the insurgency.

The survey shows that most U.S. military personnel in-country have a clear sense of right and wrong when it comes to using banned weapons against the enemy, and in interrogation of prisoners. Four in five said they oppose the use of such internationally banned weapons as napalm and white phosphorous. And, even as more photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq surface around the world, 55% said it is not appropriate or standard military conduct to use harsh and threatening methods against insurgent prisoners in order to gain information of military value.

Three quarters of the troops had served multiple tours and had a longer exposure to the conflict: 26% were on their first tour of duty, 45% were on their second tour, and 29% were in Iraq for a third time or more.

A majority of the troops serving in Iraq said they were satisfied with the war provisions from Washington. Just 30% of troops said they think the Department of Defense has failed to provide adequate troop protections, such as body armor, munitions, and armor plating for vehicles like HumVees. Only 35% said basic civil infrastructure in Iraq, including roads, electricity, water service, and health care, has not improved over the past year. Three of every four were male respondents, with 63% under the age of 30.

The survey included 944 military respondents interviewed at several undisclosed locations throughout Iraq. The names of the specific locations and specific personnel who conducted the survey are being withheld for security purposes. Surveys were conducted face-to-face using random sampling techniques. The margin of error for the survey, conducted Jan. 18 through Feb. 14, 2006, is +/- 3.3 percentage points.

Commentary on the Poll

Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times columnist, "When President Bush held a public meeting with troops by satellite last fall, they were miraculously upbeat. And all along, unrepented hawks (most of whom have never been to Iraq) have insisted that journalists are misreporting Iraq and most solders are gung-ho about the mission.

"Hogwash! A new poll to be released today shows that U.S. soldiers overwhelming want out of Iraq - and soon.

Communications Director Fritz Wenzel at Zogby said, philosophically, "This is the kind of story that has a long shelf life. These are not the kinds of opinions that shift up and down rapidly; they are strongly held opinions being expressed by the troops who were interviewed. We find that these kinds of polls don't get covered as news in themselves in today's media. They tend to get picked up and used to illuminate other stories, over time." Source: [Make sources into hyperlinks]

John Nichols of The Nation: The best response of all might well be to say: If you really want to support the troops -- as opposed to the Bush-Cheney administration's warped policies -- why not listen to the troops? Indeed, why not let them vote in an advisory referendum of their own on whether they think the occupation of Iraq should continue?

David Lindroff, author: The clearest message of the Zogby poll is that those who want to "support the troops" now know what the troops themselves want, and what they want is "OUT!" 

Justin Ramindo, commentator, The War Party can't afford to take chances with the body of armed men and women that is the source of their power, and it is no wonder they are doing their best to shield the troops from the truth. Because when our soldiers discover how and why they were lied into war, and when most of them are on their second and even their third tour of duty in Iraq, they are bound to get pretty angry - and who knows but that they just might decide to do something about it.

That is every ruling class's worst nightmare: the day their own servants turn against them. When that happens, we call it a revolution. 

Justin Ramindo, commentator, "Support our troops: bring them home now" - is now being said by those who are actually doing the fighting. How long can the U.S. occupy a country that not only doesn't want to be occupied, but where the occupiers are themselves increasingly reluctant to take up the task?

The Ostroy Report, For almost a year now, King George and the royal order of servants in his monarchy have mercilessly vilified grieving mom and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan as an unpatriotic left-wing crackpot who is not only out of touch with mainstream America but also someone who's dishonoring the soldiers who've been killed as well as those still fighting Bush's vanity project in Iraq. Well guess what? Sheehan apparently does speak for America, and for our troops as well. 



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