Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Support the troops. Really.

The hits just keep on coming for the War Party. Fukuyama's flown. Buckley's bailed. Babbin blames Bush. All the fattest rats are backstroking like hell away from their obviously sinking ship -- and now, even the Yellow Ribbon Caucus looks set to go wobbly on Bush's foreign policy project:

A poll of U.S. troops currently serving in Iraq -- reportedly the first of its kind -- shows that 72% advocate a U.S. pullout within a year, with only 23% for staying as long "as necessary," reports Nicholas Kristof in his New York Times column today. Some 29% urge withdrawal "immediately."

[Hat tip to Steve Gordon at Hammer of Truth for a flash on the Times article -- I'm quoting the Editor & Publisher take, so you don't have to fork over money to read the whole thing]

This isn't just blue-sky guesstimating -- it's Zogby, based on a 944-person sample. Thats pretty large given the target population of 130,000; statewide polls and even nationwide presidential surveys in the US routinely boast proportionally far smaller samples.

Nor was the poll conducted only among rear-echelon National Guard typists, or right after last week's explosion of "sectarian" violence:

A check of the poll's methodology finds that it was conducted from mid-January to mid-February. Three quarters of the troops had served multiple tours. Those in the reserves and National Guard are strongest in favor of withdrawal, but 58% of Marines also back a pullout in the coming year.

So now we know what kind of support the troops really want: A ticket on the Freedom Bird. A ride back to the World. Not just for themselves, but for the guys around them and preparing to follow in their footsteps ("within the year" translates to "I'm willing to serve out my tour ... but it's time to put a fork in this thing and admit it's done").

What comes next? At the Beltway level, it's predictable:

- The War Party diehards will publicly stomp on their own cranks as they usually do, but this time really hard. Look for them to blame the troops and start whining about how Patton wouldn't have given up and how all the boys and girls in uniform are just a bunch of disloyal wusses if they can't or won't make William Kristol's wet dreams come true and buy him a pony as well.

- The Bush administration will blame the media -- and DoD will probably ban further polling of members of the armed forces in Iraq.

- Republicans in Congress will lean hard on the White House to have troops visibly returning home in large numbers by the height of campaign season.

- Many, if not most, Democrats will desperately try to take credit for the withdrawal and run like hell from their records of support for the war.

But what of the Yellow Ribbon Caucus? This is sure to push the honest among them in one of two directions. Some of them will continue to "support the troops" by joining the call for an end to this three-year circle jerk. Others will quietly remove the ribbons from their bumpers, try to wipe away the outlines, and continue to follow The Leader.

And, of course, some small hypocritical remnant will try to have it both ways, "supporting" the troops by ignoring their clearly stated opinions. They'll spend the next 30 years crying in their beer with their neocon friends about how it was just that there Evil Liberal Media Conspiracy what kept them from turning Baghdad into a suburb of Peoria complete with Rotary Club and The Disney Store.

This war isn't over, folks -- but most people can no longer get around the fact that it's irretrievably lost, and that's the first big step in getting it over.

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