Military opinion about the war:
    Jim Webb’s secret source

The wingnuts want to know why Jim Webb thinks that a majority of the military no longer supports the Bush strategy of Iraq. Ummm … because the Military Times poll says so?

The warbloggers want to know where Jim Webb got the idea that the military no longer supports the Bush strategy in Iraq. (Webb said “The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military.)

Glenn Reynolds quotes one of his email correspondents, who calls that assertion “the Air America/Randi Rhodes lie” and complains that “Democrats get to lie without consequence or question.” He says, in his own vioice, that there’s “not much support” for Webb’s claim and that it’s not what Michael Yon reports from a base in Kuwait. Glenn goes on to say that Webb’s claim shows that “for his generation it will always be Vietnam.” Jonah Goldberg skeptically demands a “source” for the claim.

I guess it would have been too much work for any of these folks to type “poll Bush support military strategy Iraq” on the Google search line. The third item that pops up for that search is:

Military Times Polls Poll: More troops unhappy with Bush’s course in Iraq By Robert Hodierne … the president is handling the war, ac cording to the 2006 Military Times Poll. … – 23k

That news story starts:

The American military — once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war — has grown increasingly pessimistic about chances for victory.

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.


The story is based on the Military Times poll of its own readership, showing that 35% of respondents approve of of “the way George W. Bush is handling the situation with Iraq,” while 42% disapprove, 10% have no opinion, and 12% decline to answer. Fewer than half (41%) think we should have invaded in the first place (37% “no,” the balance no opinion/refuse/no answer).

As Phil Carter points out, the Military Times readership is more conservative than the military as a whole, so that a random sample of the entire force would probably have produced results even less supportive of the way the war is being fought.

How hard was that? Well, harder than calling your opponents liars, even when they’re telling the truth. That comes easy, to some people.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: