Monday :: Jun 13, 2005

As New Memos Emerge, Public Support For Keeping Troops In Iraq Falls


by Steve


As a follow-up to Mary’s post below on the assessment by the military brass that a military solution in Iraq isn’t feasible, the USAT reported late last night a snippet from the most recent Gallup poll that we previewed late last week. Not only does the military brass think that only a political solution can work in Iraq (so much for Cheney’s claim that the insurgency is in its “last throes”), but support for keeping our troops in Iraq at their current levels has fallen off according to Gallup. This comes as the death toll amongst American troops pushes past 1700, as senior American diplomats are now targeted, and as former GOP congressional supporters of the war now want the troops home.

Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, a new Gallup Poll finds, the most downbeat view of the war since it began in 2003.
Patience for the war has dropped sharply as optimism about the Iraqi elections in January has ebbed and violence against U.S. troops hasn't abated. For the first time, a majority would be "upset" if President Bush sent more troops. A new low, 36%, say troop levels should be maintained or increased.
"We have reached a tipping point," says Ronald Spector, a military historian at George Washington University. "Even some of those who thought it was a great idea to get rid of Saddam (Hussein) are saying, 'I want our troops home.' "

But check this out from Gallup's online summary of their poll:

More generally, 72% of Democrats say they favor a partial or complete withdrawal from Iraq, along with 65% of independents and 41% of Republicans. Forty-two percent of Democrats favor a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

WTF? Forty-one percent of the president's own cultists support a partial or full withdrawal? Can the Democrats finally grow a spine here and talk about this, as well as dismissing talk once and for all about a draft?

Of those who still think the war was worth it, note that those folks are still drinking the Kool-Aid they get from Bush and Fox News:

In the Gallup Poll, 56% say the Iraq war wasn't "worth it," essentially matching the high-water mark of 57% a month ago.
• Of those who say the war wasn't worth it, the top reasons cited are fraudulent claims and no weapons of mass destruction found; the number of people killed and wounded; and the belief that Iraq posed no threat to the United States.
• Of the 42% who say the war was worth it, the top reasons cited are the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, the need to stop terrorism and a desire to end the oppression of the Iraqi people.

Of course as many of us in the reality-based community now know, the ties between Saddam and September 11th, and Saddam and Al Qaeda were garbage, and sold to us by a White House media operation as part of a major disinformation campaign. Even the newest revelations about the British memos reveals that the Blair government knew Bush would have difficulty selling the war based upon the supporting rationales of Saddam-9/11 and Saddam-Al Qaeda links without hard evidence and without a media influence campaign.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw indicated in a memo to Blair in late March 2002 that “there has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with UBL (Osama) and Al Qaida.” Straw also noted to Blair the difficulties Bush created for himself by linking Iraq, Iran, and North Korea together in the “Axis of Evil” SOTU in January 2002, given that Bush was thinking of acting only against one of the three.

David Manning wrote Blair another memo in mid-March 2002 that shows Bush knew he would have to sell the world on why military action against Iraq was necessary and justified, but that Bush was still seeking answers on how to persuade international opinion. Just weeks later, he had the answer: the White House Iraq Group that Karen Hughes set up to sell the war.

Another memo reveals that Blair knew in March 2002 that the regime change argument would not sway world opinion because the Saddam-Al Qaeda and Saddam-WMD arguments weren’t being made effectively enough by the US. Blair’s political secretary Peter Ricketts opined that it was necessary to sell the world that Iraq deserved immediate attention rather than more advanced threats like Iran by claiming that Saddam posed an imminent threat (there’s that word). So that’s just what the White House did: build a disinformation campaign that succeeded in gaining a compliant media and an irresponsible Congress, of whom the likes of Joe Biden now want us to forget their role in taking us down a path to 1700 dead American soldiers.

So read these memos and form your own conclusions. To be fair, I have seen some things in several of them that give me pause, aside from the typos and the fact that they appear to be written on the same equipment and without spellchecking. And the Ricketts memo talks in March 2002 about Bush’s efforts to sell a Saddam-Al Qaeda link “so far as frankly unconvincing.” I haven’t been aware until now that Bush did a lot of talking about Saddam Al Qaeda links in the period between 9/11 and March 2002, but perhaps he did, or the Administration did privately to the British. The sum total of all these memos is that Blair and Bush were strategizing how to sell the world on taking out Saddam as early as March 2002, if not sooner, by way of setting up the conditions for regime change, way earlier than many of us previously thought, and that the Brits knew such an action was probably illegal.

One last thing about this Gallup poll: when you read these numbers about the fall-off in support for maintaining our troop levels in Iraq, remember this:

This poll had more Republicans (33.2%) in it than Democrats (31%).

Steve :: 10:05 AM :: Comments (26) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!