March 1, 2006

Why are we in Iraq?

A Zogby poll of 944 U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq reports:

While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”

“Ninety-three percent said that removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for U.S. troops being there,” said Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International. “Instead, that initial rationale went by the wayside and, in the minds of 68% of the troops, the real mission became to remove Saddam Hussein.” Just 24% said that “establishing a democracy that can be a model for the Arab World" was the main or a major reason for the war. Only small percentages see the mission there as securing oil supplies (11%) or to provide long-term bases for US troops in the region (6%).

Greg Cochran comments on the linkage in the minds of soldiers between Saddam, 9/11, and al Qaeda:

I think this is pretty easy to understand: the alternative for the average Joe is to conclude that we did it for no reason that he can understand at all: i.e. that the government is insane. So, many people make up a reason. because the alternative is too disturbing - more so if they think of the government as being run by _ their side_.. I had figured that the fraction of our armed forces in Iraq that belied that we were retaliating (for things that Iraq never did) would be higher than at home, because a volunteer army would self-select for such beliefs, and because the idea that friends would have been crippled or killed for no reason that anyone could understand would be hateful. I had guessed about two-thirds of the Army would believe this, but it's higher than that.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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