At a March 21, 2006 press conference, when President Bush was pressed as to whether there would be a complete withdrawal of troops during his presidency, he repeated his common mantra, “I can only tell you that I will make decisions on force levels based on what commanders on the ground say.” He went on to admit that it would be up to a future president to decide when and if the troops should be brought home. He is clearly preparing the country for a war with no end.
Bush has not listened to the American people who in poll after poll disapprove of his actions in Iraq. He claims to listen to the military leaders who know best because they are there. But does anyone expect that military commanders will actually challenge their commander-in-chief?
Remember Army General Eric K. Shinseki? He was the general who was foolish enough to state that the United States would need several hundred thousand troops in postwar Iraq. Since this contrasted with the Bush regime’s rosy picture of a quick and easy victory followed by rapid re-construction paid for by Iraqi oil sales, the General was put on the road to retirement. Other commanders were duly warned by this example.
But perhaps instead of listening to the “commanders on the ground” as he constantly repeats, Bush should listen to the troops on the ground who do the actual dying as a result of the Bush regimes decision to engage in pre-emptive war.
A Zogby International poll which was released on Feb. 28 indicated that of the 944 military respondents to the poll, 72 percent think that the United States should exit Iraq within the next year. The 944 active duty troops were interviewed at various locations in Iraq and represented the various services, as well as regular and reserve troops.
This poll has received surprisingly very little attention in the press. But it is quite revealing as to the thoughts of those in the military—not those who order others to die, but those who risk their lives to carry out the orders of the chicken hawks in Washington.
Twenty-nine percent of those polled stated that the United States should withdraw immediately, 22 percent said troops should leave within six months, and another 21 percent said withdrawal should occur within six to 12 months. Only 23 percent stated to the pollsters that troops should stay as long as they are needed which appears to be the stated Bush view.
Different branches of the military had somewhat varying responses. Eighty-nine percent of the reserves and 82 percent of the National Guard thought the troops should leave Iraq within a year, while 58 percent of the Marines agreed. Seven in 10 of those in the regular army supported withdrawal within the year.
Part of the survey shows the extent of the success of pro-war propaganda. Fifty-eight percent of troops surveyed stated that the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42 percent say it is somewhat or very unclear. What do the troops think the mission is? Eighty-five percent say the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks” and 77 percent state that a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.” Since even Bush admits that Saddam had no role in 9/11 and no credible source claims he was protecting al Qaeda this particular aspect is quite frightening. Given the extent of the Bush regime’s attempts to closely associate Saddam and bin Laden in the public’s mind it is not surprising that so many of those surveyed have been confused.
But do not hold your breath waiting for the Bush regime to pay any more attention to this poll than those conducted among civilians. Bush, Cheney, Rummy and company lied to get the United States into this war and they will not voluntarily withdraw. Only by driving the Bush regime from power can we expect to see the United States exit this war. But the world can’t wait another three years to oust those who deceived the country into entering the Iraq war.
Unfortunately they are now actively engaged in beating the war drums with similar tactics around Iran. If left unchallenged how long before we will attack Iran to keep the Iranians from using weapons of mass destruction and supporting terrorism? You do not think this is possible? The world can not wait to find out if the Bush regime will again use its well oiled propaganda machine to drag us into another war. We must force the regime from power now before it is too late.
Kenneth J. Theisen is an Oakland resident.