T Nation

Dems Demand Pullout


Greatest line from a politician I've ever heard: "Murtha, a Marine intelligence officer in Vietnam, angrily shot back at Cheney: ?I like guys who?ve never been there that criticize us who?ve been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don?t like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.?

Hawkish Democrat calls for Iraq withdrawal
Reversing view, war veteran says U.S. needs immediate change of course

Updated: 4:39 p.m. ET Nov. 17, 2005
WASHINGTON - An influential House Democrat who voted for the Iraq war called Thursday for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, another sign of growing unease in Congress about the conflict.

?It is time for a change in direction,? said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., one of Congress? most hawkish Democrats. ?Our military is suffering; the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region.?

Murtha estimated that all U.S. troops could be pulled out within six months. A decorated Vietnam veteran, he choked back tears during his remarks to reporters.

Murtha?s comments came just two days after the Senate voted to approve a statement that 2006 ?should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty? to create the conditions for the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces.

In recent days, President Bush and other top administration officials have lashed out at critics of the war and have accused Democrats of advocating a ?cut and run? strategy that will only embolden the insurgency.

White House spars with critics
Vice President Dick Cheney jumped into the fray Wednesday by assailing Democrats who contend the Bush administration manipulated intelligence on Iraq, calling their criticism ?one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.?

Murtha, a Marine intelligence officer in Vietnam, angrily shot back at Cheney: ?I like guys who?ve never been there that criticize us who?ve been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don?t like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.?

The top Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, Murtha has earned bipartisan respect for his grasp of military issues over three decades in Congress. He planned to introduce a resolution Thursday that, if passed by both the House and the Senate, would force the president to withdraw U.S. troops.

Murtha could not say whether his caucus supports his position. And, although he is a close adviser to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., she was absent from his news conference.

Later Thursday, Pelosi said she supported his position that the president?s policy is not working and must be changed but she stopped short of endorsing his call for immediate withdrawal. ?Mr. Murtha speaks for himself very eloquently and the district he represents,? Pelosi said.

For months, Pelosi has pushed for the Bush administration to outline an exit strategy. Some Senate Democrats have laid out plans for a phased withdrawal, and a number of House Democrats have been demanding that the troops be brought home. But few House members have the level of credibility on military issues that Murtha does.

?Not going as advertised?
Murtha voted to give the president authority to use force against Saddam Hussein in 2002 but in recent months has grown increasingly troubled with the direction of the war and with the Bush administration?s handling of it.

?The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion,? Murtha said.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, said Murtha?s call for withdrawal was ?reprehensible and irresponsible.?

?It shows the Democratic Party has chosen a policy of retreat and defeatism which will only encourage the terrorists and threaten the stability of Iraq,? Granger said.

First elected to Congress in 1974, Murtha is known as an ally of uniformed officers in the Pentagon and on the battlefield. The perception on Capitol Hill is that when the congressman makes a statement on military issues, he?s talking for those in uniform.

Known to shun publicity, Murtha said he was standing up because he had a constitutional and moral obligation to speak for the troops.

His voice cracked and tears filled his eyes as he related several stories of visiting wounded troops, including one who was blinded and lost both his hands but had been denied a Purple Heart because friendly fire caused his injuries.

?I met with the commandant. I said, ?If you don?t give him a Purple Heart, I?ll give him one of mine.? And they gave him a Purple Heart,? said Murtha, who has two.

? 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



We will not give a timeline because we are not finished there yet. We have much more cleanup to do.

Personally I think that ethnic group has a whole different, skewed way of thinking than we will ever understand.


This isn't really anything new from Murtha.

Murtha: Iraq ?Unwinnable?
By Erin P. Billings and Emily Pierce
Roll Call Staff
May 6, 2004

Signaling a new, more aggressive line against the Bush administration?s policy on Iraq, Rep. John Murtha (Pa.), the House Democrats? most visible defense hawk, will join Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today to make public his previously private statements that the conflict is ?unwinnable.?

I think I like John McCain's position on this issue:




November 17, 2005 -- IRAQ is today in the throes of another critical moment in its post-Saddam history. There is both great hope and great difficulty, with a new constitution and an ongoing insurgency, with parliamentary elections in a month and violence plaguing many areas.

At home, the American people wish to see us succeed in helping bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people, but express increased uncertainty among the way forward. Now is the last time we should send a message that withdrawing troops is more important than achieving success.

Unfortunately, the Senate considered two amendments this week ? one of which was approved with 79 votes ? that did just that. In the version that passed, 2006 is designated as "a period of significant transition to full sovereignty . . . thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq."

These words are likely to be examined closely in Iraq, by both friends and enemies. They suggest that the Senate has its priorities upside down, and I voted to reject them.

Anyone reading the amendment gets the sense that the Senate's foremost objective is the draw-down of American troops. What it should have said is that America's first goal in Iraq is not to withdraw troops, but to win the war. All other policy decisions we make should support, and be subordinate to, the successful completion of our mission.

If that means we can draw down our troop levels and win in Iraq in 2006, that would be a wonderful outcome. But if success requires an increase in American troop levels in 2006, then we must increase our numbers there.

Morality, national security and the honor our fallen deserve all compel us to see our mission in Iraq through to victory.

But the amendment suggests a different priority. It signals that withdrawal, not victory, is foremost in Congress' mind, and suggests that we are more interested in exit than victory.

A date is not an exit strategy. To suggest that it is only encourages our enemies, by indicating that the end to American intervention is near. It alienates our friends, who fear an insurgent victory, and tempts undecideds to join the anti-government ranks.

And it suggests to the American people that, no matter what, 2006 is the date for withdrawal. As much as I hope 2006 is the landmark year that the amendment's supporters envision, should it not be so, messages like these will have unrealistically raised expectations once again. That can only cost domestic support for America's role in this conflict, a war we must win.

The sponsors may disagree with my interpretation of their words, saying that 2006 is merely a target, that their legislation is not binding and that it included caveats. But look at the initial response to the Senate's words: a front page Washington Post story titled "Senate Presses for Concrete Steps Toward Drawdown of Troops in Iraq."

Think about this for a moment. Imagine Iraqis, working for the new government, considering whether to join the police force, or debating whether or not to take up arms. What will they think when they read that the Senate is pressing for steps toward draw-down?

Are they more or less likely to side with a government whose No. 1 partner hints at leaving?

The Senate has responded to the millions who braved bombs and threats to vote, who put their faith and trust in America and their government, by suggesting that our No. 1 priority is to bring our people home.

We have told insurgents that their violence does grind us down, that their horrific acts might be successful. But these are precisely the wrong messages. Our exit strategy in Iraq is not the withdrawal of our troops, it is victory.

Americans may not have been of one mind when it came to the decision to topple Saddam Hussein. But, though some disagreed, I believe that nearly all now wish us to prevail.

Because the stakes there are so high ? higher even than those in Vietnam ? our friends and our enemies need to hear one message: America is committed to success, and we will win this war.

Sen. McCain (R, Az.) is one of only 19 U.S. senators ? including just 13 Republicans ? to have voted against a Senate resolution Tuesday pushing for an eventual draw-down of U.S. troops from Iraq.


And here's a good analysis from Pejman Yousefzadeh, a lawyer and blogger, on the same subject:


Who Will Fill The Void?

Posted by Pejman Yousefzadeh on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:02:08 AM EST

Our goal in Iraq is a simple one. We want to help the country stand on its feet, provide for its own security and give its citizens a chance to vote for the government of their own choosing (something the Iraqi people have been doing with diligence and enthusiasm, I might add). When these goals are achieved, we want to fulfill one more. We want to withdraw.

Americans, it has often been said, are wary of empire-building. We are wary when others try to do it. We are wary when it is proposed that we do it ourselves. While it is, strictly speaking, in the rational interests of the United States to maximize its power and while the U.S. plays the realpolitik game as well as anyone, the values of her citizens eschew imperialism and largely rebel against those who bestride the world like a Colossus. We are proud of our might and strength, but we are happy when left alone.

That is why it is so strange and bizarre to hear and read some of the accusations regarding the American presence in Iraq. Are we there for the oil? If so, why haven't we invaded Mexico and Venezuela just yet? Does anyone think that we plan to? It is in our interests to ensure a stable energy supply but surely even the most casual observer has seen that we don't go to extremes to get it; it is, after all, equally in our interests not to allow the costs of achieving a stable energy supply to outrun the benefits.

Are we there to wage war against the Muslim people? The question is so silly as to not merit any comment whatsoever. If by now people don't understand who the enemy is in the war on terror--or if they pretend not to understand--they are not likely to change anytime soon.

Are we in Iraq to let Halliburton and Dick Cheney fatten their pockets? Like the last question, it amazes and appalls that we are actually debating this one. And it says something about the deleterious state of the public debate regarding Iraq that this debate is taking place.

The specific policy goals underlining our presence in Iraq are inspired by the same blend of realism and idealism that for so long has driven American foreign policy. To be sure, we have a vested interest in the success of the reconstruction effort in Iraq. But we are also vested in the success of others. One need not be an adherent to the idea that "democratic societies are peaceful societies" to cheer on this effort. I know that I am not. But as I have written before and elsewhere, while democratic societies can be far better warfighting societies than some give them credit for, they are valuable for international security and stability because of their transparency. A transparent society is one that does not contribute to misunderstandings, miscalculations, the security dilemma ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_dilemma ) and the proliferation of War Itself. A democratic Iraq will help bring transparency in a part of the world that remains largely--and tragically--opaque, and will promote greater openness throughout the region. I don't know what the Arabic word for glasnost is, but I am certainly willing to campaign for it.

I know that it is not easy to do so. I know that in the short term, it is easier to say "chuck it," or something that rhymes with "chuck" and leave. But while it may give us short-term satisfaction to do so, the long term consequences of leaving Iraq and our own security interests in the lurch are too terrifying to contemplate--and they will haunt us for years to come. John McCain is not someone I agree with all that often on a number of issues, but he is stellar when it comes to understanding the stakes in Iraq ( http://mccain.senate.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=NewsCenter.ViewPressRelease&Content_id=1624 ):

[i]?Mr. President, the Iraq amendment under consideration today constitutes no run-of-the-mill resolution and reporting requirement. It is much more important than that, and likely to be watched closely in Iraq ? more closely there, in fact, than in America. In considering this amendment, I urge my colleagues to think hard about the message we send to the Iraqi people. I believe that, after considering how either version will be viewed in Iraq, we must reject both.

?Reading through each version, one gets the sense that the Senate?s foremost objective is the drawdown of American troops. But America?s first goal in Iraq is not to withdraw troops, it is to win the war. All other policy decisions we make should support, and be subordinate to, the successful completion of our mission. If that means we can draw down troop levels and win in Iraq in 2006, that is wonderful. But if success requires an increase in American troop levels in 2006, then we should increase our numbers there.

?But that?s not what these amendments suggest. They signal that withdrawal, not victory, is foremost in Congress? mind, and suggest that we are more interested in exit than victory. Mr. President, a date is not an exit strategy. This only encourages our enemies, by indicating that the end to American intervention is near, and alienates our friends, who fear an insurgent victory. Instead, both our friends and our enemies need to hear one message: America is committed to success in Iraq and we will win this war.

?The Democratic version requires the President to develop a withdrawal plan. Think about this for a moment. Imagine Iraqis, working for the new government, considering whether to join the police forces, or debating whether or not to take up arms. What will they think, Mr. President, when they learn that the Democrats are calling for a withdrawal plan? The Republican alternative, while an improvement, indicates that events in 2006 should create the conditions for a redeployment of U.S. forces. Are these the messages we wish to send, Mr. President? Do we wish to respond to the millions who braved bombs and threats to vote, who have put their faith and trust in America and the Iraqi government, that our number one priority is now bringing our people home? Do we want to tell insurgents that their violence has successfully ground us down, that their horrific acts will, with enough time, be successful? No, Mr. President, we must not send these messages. Our exit strategy in Iraq is not the withdrawal of our troops, it is victory.

?If we can reach victory in 2006, that would be wonderful. But should 2006 not be the landmark year that these amendments anticipate, we will have once again unrealistically raised the expectations of the American people. That can only cost domestic support for America?s role in this conflict, a war we must win.

?I?d repeat that, Mr. President. This is a war we must win. The benefits of success and the consequences of failure are too profound for us to do otherwise. The road ahead is likely to be long and hard, but America must follow it through to success. While the sponsors of each version of this amendment might argue that their exact language supports this view, perceptions here and in Iraq are critical. By suggesting that withdrawal, rather than victory, is on the minds of America?s legislators, we do this great cause a grave disservice.? [/i]

Yes. But alas, doing the cause a disservice looms mightily on the horizon. Doing the cause a disservice has given rise to the "Chickenhawk!" meme, used to silence debate by those who must be aware (I am being generous here) that if the debate were allowed to proceed in full and fair fashion, with each side having joined in with vigor and intelligence, the position of the cut-and-run crowd would be exposed for the hollow farce that it is. Doing the cause a disservice has given rise to the inherently inhumane belief that the lives and fate of the Iraqi people matter not and can be washed out of our hands like loose-clinging dirt. Doing the cause a disservice has given rise to The World's Greatest Deliberative Body suffering from a collective panic attack ( http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/368oamaf.asp ) of embarrassing--if not epic--proportions. This is not deliberation. This is not sound judgment. This is not the work of grown-ups trying to right a policy. This is Madness Incarnate and if allowed to stand and prosper, its consequences will weigh heavily with us for decades and generations to come. For that is how long it will take to wash away the shame and fecklessness attendant to the abandonment of Iraq and our efforts there. And until that shame and fecklessness are washed away, people the world around will doubt the word and commitment of a nation steeped in the promotion of law, freedom and justice, a nation that alone among superpowers and empires throughout history has used its power to free rather than enslave. And free we have. Ask the nations of the former Warsaw Pact. Ask the nations once chained to the deadweight of the Soviet Union. Ask the Afghans and Iraqis themselves who their earthly liberators were. They will answer you in the event that you have forgotten. And if you have forgotten, then shame on you.

I don't pretend that all has gone well with the reconstruction of Iraq. But I also don't pretend that things will get better if we leave early. In fact, they will get far worse. Greg Djerejian notes the abuse of Sunni Iraqis by Shi'ite ones, and says the following ( http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/archives/004858.html ):

FYI, if we pull out precipitously, as everyone from Nick Kristof to John Warner seems to wish these days, this sorta thing will happen much more often. And Zalmay Khalilzad's leverage to force the Iraqi leadership to do the right thing, whatever the crisis, whoever the leaders in power, will diminish mightily (roughly in tandem with the amount of U.S. forces being drawn-down). I continue to believe that a rapid pull-out, or too rapid Iraqification process--could leave Iraq in the throes of civil war. The Jacksonian/Rumsfeldian wing will then say, tant pis, we tried to help those ingrates and savages but they couldn't pull it together. Everyone will move on to the Next Thing. But history will record that we didn't finish the job, and lied to ourselves that we had made a real go of it.

It must have been hard to be an Iraqi for these many decades. To be under the thumb of a power mad autocrat who believed in nothing but his own self-aggrandizement. Who looked like he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. It must have been hard to live the only life you are going to have for so long without any hope with which to sustain yourself.

But hope has been brought to the Iraqi people. Hope cannot bring success by itself. Human effort, patience and courage will have to see us through. Those who have labored so long and hard to serve our country and the Iraqi people deserve better than what they have gotten for so long in the debate over Iraq. The Iraqi people have waited too long for hope to have it taken away from them by the impatient and historically ignorant. For too long, we who have believed that the cause in Iraq can and should be seen through to victory have been silent, thinking that others might eventually come around and see the wisdom of our position.

Strangely enough, they haven't. Or perhaps other considerations predominate. In any event, the silence must end. To answer the question posed by the title of this post, the Iraqis will fill the void that would be left by our departure. Some day soon. But until that day comes, we are indispensable to the success of the reconstruction effort in Iraq. Let us try not to forget that. Too many already have.


We should absolutely announce a timeline to pull out of Iraq. I always believe that telling the enemy when you are leaving is good military strategy....No wait maybe that's not a good idea...


I don't think a static timeline is wise, but it would be nice to see existence of strategy coming out of the administration from time to time.

Maybe if one of them had of actually served instead of "having other priorities".


To me, this seems to be the same rhetoric that was going on in Vietnam; we can't leave, the job isn't done, what will the world think of us, the ARVN can't take care of itself yet.

I have a question for the Conservatives, a serious one:

What do you fellas think will happen if we pull out right now? Will the attacks cease because we are not there? Won't it be harder to recruit "suiciders" (as George II calls them)? Or do you think it will be easier, and that the country will fall apart? I'm interested in responses.


I liked Murtha's shot at the chickenhawks that run this war, but pulling out, or even setting a deadline, are terrible ideas. If we pull out now, no one really knows what will happen. But do Iraq's chances of becoming a succesful multi-ethnic democracy evaporate? Pretty much. Maybe you get civil war, Yugoslavia-style, maybe the Sunnis prove they're the wolves (with the Shiites the sheep) and recreate the minority dictatorship, maybe the Kurds pull out and the Turks fight them, maybe Iran steps in, maybe the country becomes a failed state like the Taliban's Afghanistan, a haven for terrorists...who knows. None of these options are good, and a U.S. pullout virtually guarantees one of them.


Whether we leave now, next year or ten years from now isn't going to matter in the end. We've succeeded in creating the fundamentalist Islamic state of West Iran, all we can hope to accomplish by staying is to delay the inevitable.


I just have to say that I have had it with this whole thing. I have had two good friends go over there in the last year, one of whom is still over there. Another very close friend is going to be over there as soon as he graduates college in May, which is why I hope the pullout comes sooner rather than later.

I have had it with the people who are not fighting talking about how righteous this war is. i have had it with those, whose best friends are not going, talking about how right this war is. I have had it with girls I know praying to God that their fiances do not go back to iraq. I have had it with fearing that every moment I am awake, waiting for that call that says, "Mike got killed in Iraq". I have had it with all you guys that are too damn old, or could get deferments, talking about how we should still be over there. Put your fucking brothers there, put yourselves there, and see how much you care about Iraqi freedom. Watch your wives cry (like all the girls I know will) when my buddies get killed for no reason. I have had it. This is my generation's Vietnam. Keep talking. The tide is changing.


Basically, there are going to be two Iraqs: a northern, secular one, and a southern, Shiite one. There will also be a lot of very unhappy Sunni making trouble in both places, and there will be parts of Iraq that are very poorly supervised indeed. Whether the federal framework per se survives or not doesn't really change this basic reality.

We need to stay long enough to see the question of Kirkuk to its conclusion. The Turks are crazy, we will have to make clear that we will intervene in the event that they threaten to invade Kurdistan.

Beyond that, I'm switched if I can see the value added in our staying.


So, you did you think it was righteous for us to go into Afghanistan? Did you go?


A few more observations about Murtha. I really don't see how the media can be characterizing him as a "Democratic hawk" -- maybe that applied 3 years ago, but he changed his position a long time previously, so trying to frame this as an epiphany and conversion is disingenuous at best.


House of Murtha?
Plus--And the poor get podcasts.
By Mickey Kaus
Updated Friday, Nov. 18, 2005, at 4:19 AM ET

Thursday, November 17, 2005

House of Murtha? A couple of points about Rep. John Murtha's speech calling--according to the NYT ( http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/18/politics/18military.html?ex=1289970000&en=6aa053e9837f6191&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss )--for the "immediate withdrawal of American troops" from Iraq:

a) The press is pretending to be surprised by Murtha's views ("An Unlikely Lonesome Dove" ... "a fierce hawk" http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/17/AR2005111701536.html ) even though he's been a known, public Iraq War skeptic since at least a year and a half ago ( ). NBC News, even more ludicrously, pretended to be surprised by professional GOP apostate Sen. Chuck Hagel's apostasy. ... Update: Most egregious was the LAT's Maura Reynolds who, in order to set up the "jolt" of Murtha's speech, wrote ( http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-usiraq18nov18,0,2816155.story?track=tottext ):

   [i] And when President Bush decided to wage war on Saddam Hussein, perhaps no Democrat was a firmer ally.[/i]

Assuming Reynolds means the current President Bush and the current war (and shouldn't she have said if she didn't?) this is correction-worthy garbage. Murtha questioned the war in 2002, before it began ( http://www.veteransforcommonsense.org/index.cfm?Page=Article&ID=1 ).

b) I'm ready to be convinced that U.S. troops are doing more harm than good in Iraq, but Murtha's speech is not convincing ( http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/pa12_murtha/pr051117iraq.html ). He doesn't even try very hard. He seems primarily concerned with the health of our soldiers ("[t]hey don't deserve to continue to suffer. They're the targets") and the military sector as a whole, which is fine. But there are also the Iraqis to worry about, not to mention the larger cause of democracy in the region. Murtha concludes: "We have become a catalyst for the violence." But increasingly we also seem to be the only thing standing in the way of wholesale violence against the Sunnis ( http://www.newsday.com/news/columnists/ny-vppin4515723nov17,0,3856377.column ). (Does some portion of the Sunni leadership now secretly want us to stay?) ... Backfill: In Murtha's press conference he's forced into a more substantial defense ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/17/AR2005111700982.html ), but he's still not close to convincing on the more-harm-than-good issue.

c) It's not clear Murtha's actually for a "withdrawal" of American troops. He speaks of "redeployment" calls for a "quick reaction force in the region" and "an over-the-horizon presence of Marines"--in Kuwait, he suggests. Murtha says he'd use it against threats like "a terrorist camp that may affect our national security or the security in the region." Well, they have those in Iraq! They're staffed by some of the same people who are planting bombs in Baghdad. If Murtha would attack them, and those in them, then we'll still be fighting a war in Iraq, no?

P.S.--Tomorrow's CW Today: Sullivan is surely right that the Bushies are over-obsessed with rebutting the retrospective, defamatory,** Hillary-excusing "Bush lied" meme ( http://www.andrewsullivan.com/index.php?dish_inc=archives/2005_11_13_dish_archive.html#113225191217246541 ) rather than shoring up the voters' prospective confidence of eventual success in Iraq:

[i]What we need now is a very clear indication that our effort to train the Iraqi military is progressing, that the troops are well-equipped and cared for and that the political process isn't degenerating into sectarianism. [/i]

The Dems have done the war effort the most damage by making their criticism personal, goading Bush and, especially, Cheney ( http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2005/11/iraq-051116-whitehouse01.htm ) into defending themselves instead of defending in detail our continued presence in Iraq. But who's fault is that, ultimately? ...

**--but not implausible ... 10:54 P.M. link


BTW, this poll is kind of dated, but to counter the critique from Murtha, it seems that veterans of THIS WAR overwhelmingly support what we're doing:


By Robert Hodierne
Times staff writer

Despite a year of ferocious combat, mounting casualties and frequent deployments, support for the war in Iraq remains overwhelming among the active-duty military, according to the 2004 Military Times Poll.

Sixty-three percent of respondents approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, and 60 percent remain convinced it is a war worth fighting. And 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.

But the men and women in uniform are under no illusions about how long they will be fighting in Iraq; nearly half said they expect to be there more than five years.

In addition, despite the pressures of a wartime military, 87 percent said they?re satisfied with their jobs and, given the choice today, only 25 percent said they would leave the service.

Compared to last year, support for the war and job satisfaction remain essentially unchanged.

Most surprisingly, a year ago 77 percent said they thought the military was stretched too thin to be effective. This year that number shrank to 66 percent.

The findings are part of the annual Military Times Poll, which this year included 1,423 active-duty subscribers to Air Force Times, Army Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times.

The subscribers were randomly surveyed by mail in late November and early December.

Subscribers to the four papers tend to be older, higher in rank and more career-oriented than the military as a whole. The poll has a margin of error of 2.6 percent.

Among the poll?s other findings:

? 75 percent oppose drafting men into the military.

? 60 percent blame Congress for the shortage of body armor in the combat zone.

? Only 12 percent think civilian Pentagon policymakers should be held accountable for abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The support among the military for the Iraq war comes at a time when polls of the civilian population show a steady erosion of such support. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week, for example, 56 percent of Americans said the Iraq war is not worth fighting and 58 percent said they disapproved of the way Bush is handling the war.

But you won?t find many doubters in the military ranks.

Air Force 2nd Lt. Brianne Walker, 24, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., said, ?Weapons of mass destruction or not, [Bush] was doing what he had to do to protect the people. We were the only ones willing to step up and do it.?

Army Sgt. Johanna Matlock at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, said if the United States hadn?t gone to war in Iraq, ?they would have come here. We?re fighting terrorists.?

Support for the war is strongest among those who have served the longest in the war zone. Two-thirds of those who have spent more than a year in the war zone say the United States should have gone to war, compared to 60 percent overall in the military sample.

The troops also are fully behind their commander in chief, giving him a 71 percent approval rating on overall handling of his job ? compared with only 48 percent among civilians, according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Peter Feaver, a political science professor at Duke University and an expert on civil-military relations, says the poll shows that an ?anticipated military ?revolt? was not coming to pass.?

?While the military might make criticisms ? they remain committed to the enterprise and optimistic that they?ll see it through to victory.?

Feaver sees no ?Iraq syndrome akin to the Vietnam syndrome,? marked by alienation from both the war and its leadership.

He says the military today believes ?defeat (in Iraq) would be awful and victory is possible and that leads to the staying power you?re seeing. ? It?s reflecting a war-time survey of a military that still thinks it can win. ? When the military thinks it can?t win, that?s bad news.?

Survey respondents also were clear about the idea of a military draft: They don?t like it.

In addition to the 75 percent who said men should not be drafted, 83 percent rejected the idea of compulsory service for women, and 73 percent said returning to the draft would lower the quality of the force.

Nearly as many, 65 percent, said a draft would make it harder to maintain discipline.

Mostly satisfied

In terms of job satisfaction, the military is comparable to the civilian world. In our poll, 37 percent of service members said they were completely satisfied and another 50 percent said they were somewhat satisfied. Among civilians, those numbers reverse, with 50 percent saying they are completely satisfied and 39 percent somewhat satisfied.

The aspect of military life that drew the most complaints: housing, with a quarter of respondents saying their military housing was poor or very poor.

But there?s no escaping other areas of concern. When asked who should be held accountable for shortages of body armor among deployed troops, respondents gave Congress the biggest share of the blame, 60 percent. But 49 percent said senior military officials also should be held accountable. Only 35 percent laid blame on the Bush administration.

Similarly, most respondents don?t believe responsibility for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib should run uphill.

Respondents were asked to check boxes alongside as many different groups as they thought should be punished for the abuse. Some 74 percent thought the soldiers who committed the abuse should be punished and 67 percent said the officer in direct command of the prison should be punished.

But only 21 percent said high-level military commanders should be held accountable, and even fewer ? 12 percent ? thought civilian policymakers should share in the blame. The president, meanwhile, was almost blame-free: Only 3 percent named Bush.

Staff writers Joe Chennelly, Bruce Rolfsen, Mark Faram, Gordon Lubold and freelancer Jodi Upton contributed to this report.


Murtha has been a sheep in wolfs clothing for a while now.

The lack of a united front is certainly helping the terrorists cause.

Fifteen of eighteen provinces in Iraq are peaceful, they have had multiple elections in Iraq, had the Iraqi people approve a constitution and the first elections based on the constitution are scheduled to be held in a few weeks it certainly appears the terrorists are winning the war in the American media and among Democratic congressmen.


Wonder why it's taking so long for the attacks on Murtha to start. Did the talking points memo get held up? Are Dick and Karl too busy with other stuff right at the moment?

I expect that by Monday everyone will know that Murtha was a communist sympathiser in Vietnam and fathered several bastard North Vietnames children on his many clandestine trips to Hanoi during the war. In fact he was probably there with Jane Fonda, maybe some of the kids are really theirs together. I don't watch Faux News so I don't know, maybe they've already started.


Why attack Murtha? He is the only Democrat saying what he truly feels on the subject. I happen to disagree with him but I respect his honesty.

I feel he is being misrepresented in the media as a hawk that has suddenly changes sides, but that is not his fault, hence my sheep in wolf's clothing.

I respect him far more than I respect Ted Kennedy, Check Schumer, Dick Durban, etc.


Because that's standard procedure for this administration when dealing with dissent. A "swift boat" attack over the weekend should shut him up.

I do wish more Dems would speak up though, and if they agree with Murtha they should stand up and say so. I think too many of them are more worried about the swift boat attacks exposing the skeletons in their own closets to risk pissing the WH off too much.


Ahahahaha. Yep. I see some fair and balanced reporting on the subject here. I really don't think that many democrats are for an immediate pullout.

Heck, I guess we'll see. This is just a shot off the bow, it opens up avenues of discussion and has allowed republicans to be louder in saying an exit strategy is required as a way of moderate dissent with this more wild opinion.


I would not go that far in comparing a war that took something on the order of 56,000 American lives with Iraq which has thus far claimed about 2000.

There is now a democratic government in place. Also, basically the terrorists are killing their own citizens.

Many differences between Vietnam and Iraq...Many.

At this early stage of the new government there is no doubt in my mind that it would indeed be overthrown. We would probably end up with some sort of anti American regime in power.

Also the terrorists would feel that they have us on the run. It would be a huge victory for the terrorists.