"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Numbers Tell the Story - Not a Poll

Today’s NRO has a column by W. Thomas Smith, Jr. regarding Jim Webb’s rebuttal to the SOTU 07 address and his claim of a majority of the military no longer supporting it:

“What the numbers do suggest — and what we who have worn the uniform of the United States have always known — is that soldiers and sailors gripe. They get frustrated like everyone else. They blow off steam. And they have been doing so since armies first marched and navies sailed. They complain about the food (even when it is superb). They dismiss the equipment as being worthless (even when it is the best in the world). And they sometimes grumble that their leaders are stupid (though those leaders might be tactical masters on the battlefield). The unhappiest and most rebellious of those who gripe are also the most vocal in their griping.”

The above quote isn’t the entire argument, but before getting into the numbers as Smith, a former Marine infantry leader does; the quote alone holds a lot of sway for me as a former grunt/leg/groundpounder….. Bitching is almost a requirement, and comes very naturally to an 11B – the infantry isn’t the coziest of careers.

Smith’s premise is that a poll of the 6,000 Military Times subs is not an accurate means of assessing the military person’s opinion or attitude. As Smith says:

“Hardly accurate numbers to suggest — as Webb has — that the troops no longer support the way the war is being prosecuted: A subliminal suggestion to the general public that American soldiers no longer believe in the overall effort in Iraq (which is absolutely false).”

Try military retention instead. The numbers from the Army alone:

“FY06 was not unlike previous years.

In FY05, the Army needed to retain 64,162. They met and exceeded that goal at 108 percent by retaining 69,512 eligible soldiers.

In FY04, the goal was 56,100. The goal was exceeded at 107 percent with 60,010.

In FY03, the goal was 51,000. The goal was exceeded at 106.2 percent with 54,151.

In FY02, the goal was 56,800. The goal was exceeded at 102.5 percent with 58,237.

And in FY01, the goal was 64,000. The goal was exceeded at 101.5 percent with 64,982.”

In closing:

“The Military Times poll also suggests that most soldiers believe we should have between 146,000 and 200,000-plus troops in Iraq. That’s exactly what Bush proposes and Webb opposes. The senator forgot to mention that.”

Yet another example of an opinion (Webb’s), that doesn’t find it necessary to be truthful.

Complete column is here…..


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