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March 5, 2006
Did Zogby Get Punked?By Greyhawk
The recent Zogby Poll is very much in the news these days. Until now I haven't weighed in on this myself - I've been awaiting additional details. But I think we've learned all we are likely to on this topic, and unfortunately that ain't much. I don't want to dispute the poll, I want to understand it. I can't dispute or support the results without some minimum undestanding of them. And honestly I don't get it.
Some details on that Zogby poll - actual questions asked, along with the number of responses for each answer. Here are a couple with odd results.
4. Is this your first, second, or third tour of Iraq ?
5. How many months have you served in Iraq?
Less than 6 240
The Army spends 12 month (or longer) tours in Iraq - therefore anyone on their second or third tour would have at least 12 (or even 24) months in country. But while 700 respondents to the poll claim to be on their second or third tour, only 295 say they've spent more than a year there.
Of the 944 people polled, 240 were Marines - they serve shorter tours - but this doesn't account for the odd result. (And apparently Navy and Air Force members weren't polled at all.) Has the Bush administration be lying about tour lengths? Could the poll be flawed - say by people filing out answers at random? Did they simply not understand the questions? Or am I missing something?
Likewise this result - only 22% say U.S. troops should stay in Iraq as long as they are needed. But when asked why they think some Americans favor rapid withdrawal, 37% say "because they are unpatriotic". So some percentage of the troops who want to withdraw before the mission is complete also think Americans who favor withdrawal are "unpatriotic".
This isnt nitpicking; responses to other questions are also incomprehensible. These results defy analysis. And the only explanation I can offer for this is that a large percentage of respondents answered randomly - perhaps without even reading the question. (Or perhaps they couldn't read English?)
I repeat, I don't want to dispute the poll, I want to understand it. I can't dispute or support the results without some minimum undestanding of them. And I'm not saying these results can't be explained - I'm asking if anyone can explain them?
Ignoring for a moment the questions about the validity of the Zogby Poll, purely for argument's sake lets assume that the responses to the question "How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?" accurately reflect the opinions of GIs there. I believe they might - but I also recognize that without further clarification those responses serve no useful purpose beyond headlines for newspapers, sound bites for political candidates, and bumper stickers for the anti-war crowd. But my concerns about the mission in Iraq are actually about the mission in Iraq - not its impact on domestic issues.
And in my mind the question begs additional questions, and they certainly could have been asked. Using the same format Zogby used, I think answers to these extra questions I've come up with could yield some useful results...
Please rate the following statements as reasons for your response to the "How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq" question using the following scale:
1 - Not a reason
The goal is no longer worth the effort or cost, time to cut our losses
1 2 3 4 5. Not sure
The presence of US troops is now causing more problems then it solves
1 2 3 4 5. Not sure
By that point in time Iraqi forces will be capable of handling the mission on their own
1 2 3 4 5. Not sure
Iraqi forces will never assume responsibility on their own until we depart
1 2 3 4 5. Not sure
Victory over the insurgency would require a more aggressive response from US forces. Current rules of engagement place too many limitations on our ability to fight back, and public opinion will not support the actions we should take to win. There's no sense in staying under those conditions.
1 2 3 4 5. Not sure
I'd welcome the answers to these, whatever they may be - but again, my concerns about the mission in Iraq are actually about the mission in Iraq, not its impact on domestic issues. But I think the sponsor of the Zogby Poll (a "wealthy anti-war activist") might be surprised at the number of GIs who believe the US should be more aggressive in Iraq, per my last question above. I can offer anecdotal evidence from personal experience, although I don't hold that opinion myself. But this is reflected in responses to questions that were asked - over half agree that "to control the insurgency we need to double the level of ground troops and bombing missions."
But don't worry about whether that aggression is misplaced - when asked if ongoing attacks on US troops had made them "more negative about the Iraqi people" 80% said no.
Posted by Greyhawk / March 5, 2006 4:28 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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