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November 9, 2006
A "Referendum on Iraq" (Part One: By the numbers)By Greyhawk
If the 2006 U.S. elections were a "referendum on Iraq" - who won? "The Democrats" of course - that's an easy answer. But here we've always asked the tough questions, and the full answer to that one isn't so obvious.
Remember the 2004 U.S. elections? For President, of course, but also the same number of House and Senate seats as this year's. In the run up, all the talk was of Iraq, Iraq, and Iraq. Everyone knew the election was about Iraq.
Then an odd thing happened - post-Republican victory news stories revealed that most voters were concerned with "values" and "morals" - it wasn't about Iraq at all!
The same thing happened in Australia, of course (and was ignored by American media who were busy declaring that the pending U.S. election would be about Iraq). Then one year later, Iraq would be cited as part of the reason for the loss of some seats for Tony Blair's Labour party in the British elections, but generally ignored in consideration of the fact that by the (indirect) will of the electorate, Blair was still Prime Minister.
Now fast forward to today, where post-voting polls have determined that Iraq actually was in fourth place among voter's concerns - with barely over a third declaring Iraq an extremely important issue.
The exit polls showed that 42 percent of voters called corruption an extremely important issue in their choices at the polls, followed by terrorism at 40 percent, the economy at 39 percent and the war in Iraq at 37 percent.
So of course, as in 2004 in America and Australia, and 2005 in Britain, headlines are downplaying the significance of Iraq on the latest elections, right?
Of course not - 2006 has been declared "a referendum on Iraq" - apparently the first in history of the English speaking world*. Whether the media (or pundits) liked the results or not, Iraq was an issue then, and still is today. But now that referendum has passed, Americans have spoken, and we'd better listen to what exactly they said.
By the numbers (per CNN):
Nationally, 57 percent of voters said they disapproved of the war in Iraq, while only 41 percent approved.And the AP (perhaps citing the same exit polls, of course) reported similar results:
Polls of voters found a strong majority - about six in 10 - disapproved of the war in Iraq.But as with "values" "morals" and "corruption", that "disapproved" is open to interpretation. Fortunately, the AP adds some (limited clarity):
About a fourth of those polled said they sided with Democrats on wanting to withdraw some troops from Iraq and another three in 10 said they want all troops withdrawn.
I said "limited" clarity because assuming no overlap among those two groups (if the word "another" is used correctly above), these numbers imply a third group of Americans - and at 45% they are larger than either of the other two - who want no troops brought home. But since the AP isn't talking about them, we'll turn our attention to the other two.
I'm not aware of the Democrats plan to withdraw "some" troops - and a bit concerned with exactly how that would work, how few would remain, and exactly who they would be, but let's just accept that if the AP reports it, it must be so. But seventy five percent of Americans oppose it, it would result in a bloodbath, and much of that blood would be American.
Let's turn to an option that is more feasible - all troops withdrawn. Bloodbath again, but less American blood, and seventy percent of Americans oppose it. Can a closely split House and an evenly divided Senate (let's not pretend Joe Lieberman is a Democrat on this issue) go against the majority of Americans (and a President with veto power) and make it happen?
For the record, let me admit that I'm an American who wants all the troops brought home - when we're done with our task. And I don't "approve" of any war any where, though I'm willing to participate in the one we're in. Am I the only such American?
By the way, those numbers also imply that some of those 60 percent of Americans who disapprove of the war in Iraq don't want the troops brought home - at least not precipitously.
More on that group shortly. This entry will close with a review of "groups of voters" as determined by exit polls, in diminishing order of size:
60% disapprove of the war in Iraq
45% don't want any troops brought home
40% approve of the war
37% consider Iraq an "extremely important issue"
30% want all troops brought home
25% "agree with the Democrats plan" (per the AP) to bring some troops home
Posted by Greyhawk / November 9, 2006 10:52 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...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com