Ollie North said on Fox News yesterday that in a recent trip to Iraq, “not one” service member he interviewed said that the solution in Iraq is more American boots on the ground, and that “nearly all” suggested “just the opposite.” See video at Think Progress. An American public already doubting President Bush’s plan to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq — 3/4ths disapprove of the President’s decision making, and half say we’ve lost regardless of how many troops we send — has reason to doubt it further.
I brought up the question of whether or not the troops support the war in a blog post last month because a day after the press reported new SecDef Robert Gates was hearing from senior commanders in Iraq that additional troops would exacerbate problems and lead to more deaths, the Pentagon staged a photo op in which Gates had breakfast with a group of rank-and-file soldiers that seemed, to a man and woman, to support more troops. Odd, I wrote, that polling says 72 percent of troops in Iraq want to withdraw in a year and 29 percent want to withdraw immediately, and yet Bob Gates manages to break bread (or eggs, as the case may be) with a group that is uniformly in favor of more fighting. It would be nice to hear from the troops directly, but they can’t post on liberal blogs like ours because the military prohibits the troops from reading them. Not explicitly of course, but by engineering filters to block liberal sites and allow conservative ones.
Mother Jones has covered dissention within the military extensively. In October 2004, we published “Breaking Ranks,” about troops who were speaking out against the war and even a few who were refusing to fight. At that time we also published “Warriors Against War,” a list of veterans groups, officers, diplomats and others involved in the armed forces that opposed the Iraq War. And in fall of 2005, we published “Memory’s Revenge,” an essay that told of Vietnam veterans who have reflected on their wartime experiences and are now discouraging young men and women from enlisting to fight in Iraq.