Troop Poll Not the Bombshell of Media Spin

Much is being made about the Zogby poll released today that allegedly shows a mutiny of the military in Iraq. Nicholas Kristof has a hard time containing his excitement in The New York Times:

A poll to be released today shows that U.S. soldiers overwhelmingly want out of Iraq — and soon.

Editor & Publisher then jumps on the bandwagon and trumpets Kristof's declaration with the headline:

Kristof: Poll Finds U.S. Troops in Iraq Urge Pullout

Overwhelmingly want out soon? Urge pullout? Sounds like a pretty strong indictment on the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. But things may not actually be as they appear... or as Kristof and the Democrats want them to appear.

In looking at the poll's executive summary (yeah, I paid $19.99 for it on zogby's site), the question and results are broken down as follows:

How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?

"They should withdraw immediately" - 29.0%

"They should withdraw within the next six months" - 22.4%

"They should withdraw within six to twelve months" - 20.6%

"They should stay as long as they are needed" - 22.9%

"Not sure" - 5.0%

While Kristof and the Democrats paint the picture that these numbers are evidence of a military ready to cut and run, they don't take into account the fact that the Pentagon's existing plan calls for troop reduction of almost half in the next 6 months and about 75% by the end of the year. So it's reasonable to assume, since the responses are consistent with the existing troop reduction plan, that the respondents were taking this plan into account when answering the question. Hardly the bombshell the Left wanted to portray.

Why is it safe to assume this? The very next survey question sheds some light:

"According to recent polls, about half of Americans favor a rapid withdrawal and half favor an open-ended occupation of Iraq. Which do you believe best describes the motives of those favoring rapid withdrawal?"

36.9 percent said it was because "they are unpatriotic". Unpatriotic! So if we're to believe Kristof's analysis, then over a third of our troops are "urging" something they believe is "unpatriotic".

In fact, further down in Zogby's report comes this little nugget:

A majority of troops (53%) said the U.S. should double both the number of troops and bombing missions in order to control the insurgency.

Wait... I thought the troops were "urging pullout"... So we're to believe they are "urging pullout" and simultaneously want to double the number troops? What sense does that make?

This further supports my theory that the responses to the question about how long troops should stay in Iraq were based more on the actual military plans as than on the desire of a bunch of brave men and women crying to go home.

Another interesting tidbit we're likely never to see in the MSM:

A large majority of the troops serving in Iraq said they were satisfied with the war provisions from Washington (adequate troop protection; body armor; Humvee plating, munitions).

In fact, only about 30% said their equipment is not adequate for the jobs facing them. So much for those media-planted mutinies.
Now that Kristof and the Old Gray Lady have given their marching orders, be prepared for the onslaught of coverage and endless analsysis by the rest of the MSM on this "bombshell poll". I only hope I'm not the only one who spent 20 bucks to get the whole picture.