Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Military Times poll 

John Podhoretz reports on yesterday's Military Times poll, which reveals persistent strong support for the war in Iraq among our soldiers, with the support apparently increasing with the amount of time that the soldier has served in country. Podhoretz, not surprisingly, turns these data into an unhelpful partisan screed, but that doesn't make them any less interesting.
That poll of 1,423 active members of the military indicates that the armed forces of the United States are passionate supporters of the Coalition's efforts in Iraq.

Support for the war inside the military stands at 60 percent, 25 percent higher than the latest Gallup measurement of the American people as a whole.

When it comes to President Bush's handling of the war effort, the results are even more lopsided. Only 42 percent of Americans approve, according to ABC News. In the military, Bush garners 63 percent support.

In other words, support for Bush's Iraq policy is an astounding half again as big in the active military as in the American body politic.

And, in the words of the Army Times report on the poll, "Support for the war is even greater among those who have served longest in the combat zone: Two-thirds of combat vets say the war is worth fighting."

Is two-thirds support among combat veterans an indication of strong support, as it would be among the civilian population, or is it actually quite low? I have no idea, and Podhoretz does not tell us. He does, however, quote the Military Times as saying that the proportion of active duty soldiers who support the war has not changed in the last year. The same cannot be said of the American civilian population, which suggests that there is a gap opening in attitudes about the war between the military and the homefront. Is this gap the result of protective denial within the military? Who, after all, wants to think that they are placing themselves at mortal risk in a futile effort? Or is the change in perceptions between American civilians and their military the result of relentless negative press coverage, reinforced by the Kerry campaign?

These are the interesting questions.


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