Wednesday, 15 October 2003

Iraq "war:" What's the point?

Stars and Stripes, the newspaper for American servicemen, has completed the most extensive survey yet conducted of American troops stationed in Iraq. Not surprisingly, the Bush administration's glurgy picture of troops' morale is not entirely accurate. In fact, it could be fairly described as wholly lacking basis in fact. About one-half of respondents described their morale as low. Approximately one-third characterized their mission as having "little value" or "no value at all," and about the same number reported that they believed their mission(s) in Iraq were "not clearly defined" or "not at all defined." Furthermore, over 40% reported that they have no training for their present duties. Pain perdue, anyone?

True, the survey had serious methodoligical flaws. David Mazzarella, the newspaper's editorial director in Washington said, "We conducted a 'convenience survey,' meaning we gave it to those who happened to be available at the time rather than to a randomly selected cross section, so the results cannot necessarily be projected as representing the whole population." However, the results support what many already suspected. David Segal, a military sociologist at the University of Maryland at College Park, told the Washington Post that the new data bolster the conclusions he has drawn from other research. "I am getting a sense that there is a high and increasing level of demoralization and a growing sense of being in something they don't understand and aren't sure the American people understand," he said.

How will President Bush respond? His people will eviscerate the survey's methodology, as well they should. Big Media has already picked up this story, but the articles fail to mention the methodoligical flaws until 15-20 paragraphs in — long after the average reader has stopped reading. The White House will not, however, address the (admittedly limited) substance of the survey's findings. After France, German, and Russia abandoned demands for a greater U.N. role in the reconstruction of Iraq, President Bush's ego may be just large enough that he believes that painting a rosy picture enough times can make it smell like roses.

Posted at 8:23:51 PM | Permalink
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Of course the Bush White House will ignore the report. And inasmuch as the methodology of the study is flawed, even if it is thrown up in their faces, they have a buil-in escape.

There are two possible scenarios depending on just how deeply seated your paranoia is planted. The first is, there will shortly be a change in the reporting and editorial staff at S&S for letting this "survey" get out in the first place.

The second scenario should make the conspiracy fans happy. The survey was never meant to be released, but only leaked. Once leaked, the White House spin doctors have the methodology to point at and remind us all that the UN Security Council voted unanimously to help Iraq.

They will ignore the number of countries that opted not to back their vote with silver or soldiers. They will also ignore the tirade of disparaging comments made against the UN due to its failure to join in on Operation Iraqi Liberation.

The fun fact of the day is the name of the war was changed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Did someone notice the acronym of the original name was rather revealing?

Posted by Mark Fingerman: Tue, 21 Oct 2003, 5:17:46 AM

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