An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately....That part of the poll is getting wide play in the blogosphere, as evidence that not even the troops themselves buy into the administration's arguments for the Neverending War Story. Those are stunning numbers, of course, but I was even more surprised by this aspect:
The poll ... showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq “immediately,” while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay “as long as they are needed.”
The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58% of those serving in country say the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42% said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure. While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”So the troops don't buy the "freedom on the march" rationale of the administration, but they seem to be clinging to the now widely discredited idea that Saddam had a connection to al-Qaeda. Not even the president is sticking by that whopper anymore, but the troops are still holding tight. I'm not sure if that's a result of their isolation from homefront media reports, or if it's a product of wishful thinking, a need to believe that this is part of a just retribution for the 9/11 attacks.
“Ninety-three percent said that removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for U.S. troops being there,” said Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International. “Instead, that initial rationale went by the wayside and, in the minds of 68% of the troops, the real mission became to remove Saddam Hussein.” Just 24% said that “establishing a democracy that can be a model for the Arab World" was the main or a major reason for the war. Only small percentages see the mission there as securing oil supplies (11%) or to provide long-term bases for US troops in the region (6%).
Regardless, it does help explain why the majority wants to go home. They thought their mission was to topple Saddam's regime and bring him to justice, and that part of the job was over a long time ago.
Hmm. I wonder where they got the idea that their mission had already been accomplished?