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Poll Questions Family Support of War
Cincinnati Post  |  December 10, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Families with ties to the military, long a reliable source of support for wartime presidents, disapprove of President Bush and his handling of the war in Iraq, with a majority concluding the invasion was not worth it, a Los Angeles Times/ Bloomberg poll has found.

The views of the military community, which includes active-duty service members, veterans and their family members, mirror those of the overall adult population, a sign that the strong military endorsement that the administration often pointed to has dwindled in the war's fifth year.

Poll: Has the war been worth it?

Nearly six out of every 10 military families disapprove of Bush's job performance and the way he has run the war, rating him only slightly better than the general population does.

And among those families with Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, 60 percent say that the war in Iraq was not worth the cost, the same result as all adults surveyed.

"I don't see gains for the people of Iraq ... and, oh, my God, so many wonderful young people, and these are the ones who felt they were really doing something, that's why they signed up," said poll respondent Sue Datta, 61, whose youngest son, an Army staff sergeant, was seriously wounded in Iraq last year and is scheduled to redeploy in 2009. "I pray to God that they did not die in vain, but I don't think our president is even sensitive at all to what it's like to have a child serving over there."

Patience with the war, which has lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in World War II, is wearing thin -- particularly among families who have sent a service member to the conflict. One- quarter say American troops should stay "as long as it takes to win." Nearly seven in 10 favor a withdrawal within the coming year or "right away."

Military families are only slightly more patient: 35 percent are willing to stay until victory; 58 percent want them home within a year or sooner.

Here, too, the military families surveyed are in sync with the general population, 64 percent of whom call for a withdrawal by the end of next year.

"You generally expect to see support for the president as commander-in-chief and for the war, but this is a different kind of war than those we've fought in the past, particularly for families," said David Segal, a military sociologist at the University of Maryland.

Today's all-volunteer force is older and more married than any before it. Facing a shortage of troops, the Army increased the maximum enlistment age from 35 to 42 and called up reservists, who tend to be older and more settled than recruits out of high school. The result is a fighting force that left thousands of spouses and children behind.

At the same time, deployments have grown longer and more frequent as Soldiers rotate in and out of the war zone, sometimes three and four times, with no end date in sight, a wearing existence that has contributed to opposition to Bush and his war strategy.

"The man went into Iraq without justification, without a plan, he just decided to go in there and win and he had no idea what was going to happen," said poll respondent Mary Meneely, 58, of Arco, Minn. Her son, an Air Force reservist, served one tour in Afghanistan. "There have been terrible deaths on our side, and it's even worse for the Iraqi population. It's another Vietnam."

The survey, conducted under the supervision of Los Angeles Times Poll Director Susan Pinkus, interviewed 1,467 adults nationwide from Nov. 30 through Monday. It included 631 respondents from military families and 152 who have had someone in their family stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan. The margin of error for the entire sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points; for military families it is 4 points and for families with someone in the war zone it is 8 points.

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