a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

The wheels off the bus go round and round…

Posted by Thomas Nephew on March 1st, 2006

round and round….

Mr. Bush’s overall job rating has fallen to 34 percent, down from 42 percent last month. Fifty-nine percent disapprove of the job the president is doing.

For the first time in this poll, most Americans say the president does not care much about people like themselves. Fifty-one percent now think he doesn’t care, compared to 47 percent last fall.

Just 30 percent approve of how Mr. Bush is handling the Iraq war, another all-time low.

By two to one, the poll finds Americans think U.S. efforts to bring stability to Iraq are going badly – the worst assessment yet of progress in Iraq.

Even on fighting terrorism, which has long been a strong suit for Mr. Bush, his ratings dropped lower than ever. Half of Americans say they disapprove of how he’s handling the war on terror, while 43 percent approve.

round and round…

An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.

The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College’s Center for Peace and Global Studies, showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq “immediately,” while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay “as long as they are needed.

the wheels off the bus go round and round…

Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week’s bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside of major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad’s main morgue. The toll was more than three times higher than the figure previously reported by the U.S. military and the news media.

Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday — blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound — and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

…all through the world.

The Defense Intelligence Agency today presented a relatively gloomy assessment of the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, reporting that recent Iraqi elections appear to have contributed to rising sectarian violence and that Afghan insurgents have sharply escalated their attacks. […]

More broadly “Iraq appears to be emerging as an al-Qaeda platform for launching transnational terrorist attacks,” he said, citing hotel bombings in neighboring Jordan in November and a rocket attack last August that targeted U.S. Navy ships visiting that country.

Problem is, it’s my bus too.

SOURCES: 1) CBS News, Poll: Bush Ratings at All-Time Low, which notes sympathetically, “In a bright spot for the administration, most Americans appeared to have heard enough about Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting accident.”
2) Zogby International poll of 994 military respondents polled 1/18-2/14/06, MOE +/- 3.3%.
3) Ellen Knickmeyer, Bassam Sebti, Washington Post, 2/28: Toll in Iraq’s Deadly Surge: 1,300 )
4) William Branigin, Washington Post, 2/28: Report Offers Gloomy View of Insurgencies

8 Responses to “The wheels off the bus go round and round…”

  1. Sgt. Gehlen Says:

    My name is Sgt. Gehlen and I work for the USCENTCOM public affairs office. To find out what is really happening in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, visit our website at:

  2. Thomas Nephew Says:

    Interesting site, thank you.
    Your implication is that one or the other of the last 3 items linked in this post is somehow misrepresenting what’s really happening in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Which one? And how?
    In particular, what do you make of the Zogby soldiers’ poll? They would seem to be even closer to the facts on the ground than (I’m guessing) you are. Please know I respect the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and appreciate their service; I believe the vast majority are serving honorably and doing the very best job they can. I’ve simply come to doubt whether their CinC has given them a sensible or feasible mission, or at least one that has ongoing value — doubts many of them appear to share.
    And I also think that some of the Pentagon top brass and civilian leadership have all but sold out some of your fellow soldiers, giving them immoral and confusing directions and leadership, and then not assuming command responsibility for that in the Abu Ghraib and related scandals.
    Thanks for your comment. I am curious, though: is it part of your job to leave comments in blogs?
    EDIT, 3/4: link back to “The wheels off the bus go round and round” post

  3. Karen Says:

    Yep, this is an interesting comment – but will Sgt. Gehlen provide replies?
    Or is the CentCom website his only rejoinder?
    Be curious to see if he returns.

  4. Paul Says:

    “I work for…public affairs. To find out what is really happening”
    Those two statements are mutually exclusive. It’s like saying that corporate press releases tell you “what’s really happening” inside the company. For the real deal, you read their annual filings to the SEC.
    The military classifies its real information, though GAO findings are usually interesting.
    By the way, how many “terrorists” have we killed this week in Iraq, since everyone we kill in Iraq is considered a “terrorist” by PA?

  5. Paul Says:

    Check it out, Thomas, you’ve been the recipient of what we like to call PSYOPS: CENTCOM team engages bloggers.

  6. Thomas Nephew Says:

    I am curious, though: is it part of your job to leave comments in blogs?
    Looks like the answer is “yes.”
    The team engages bloggers who are posting inaccurate or untrue information, as well as bloggers who are posting incomplete information. They extend a friendly invitation to all bloggers to visit the command’s Web site.
    Thanks a lot for catching this, Paul. At least they don’t conceal who they are here, which would be more classic psyops I think. I guess CENTCOM is trying to get back on track with Rummie’s information war — he was kvetching about losing to Al Qaeda’s blackberries and whatnot the other week, right?
    This is kind of “hit and run,” obviously, and more like mass marketing than “engagement.” I can’t quite make up my mind about this kind of thing. On the whole, I don’t like it; why my government — let alone my country’s armed forces — should spend my money trying to influence my opinions is not clear to me. Were I really misrepresenting something, I could see this, but I don’t think I was. Of course, I wouldn’t, so who else is to say, I suppose.
    “CENTCOMwatch” might be a good thing. I see you’ve been watching their body count reclassification, too.

  7. Paul Says:

    “why my government — let alone my country’s armed forces — should spend my money trying to influence my opinions is not clear to me.”
    That’s actually the whole point of Public Affairs. It’s main mission is to inform (but it’s obviously degraded into corporate Press Release territory), but it’s secondary mission is to present a positive image of the Armed Forces to the citizenry so they have continued confidence in the Armed Forces ability to do its job.
    If you’ve ever been to an Air Show at a military base, that’s a Public Affairs and recruiting tool. It’s not explicitly trying to influence your opinion, but it’s trying to present an overall image that implicitly tries to influence your opinion.
    I think the only main problem with the first comment is that he used the phrase “what’s really happening”, which means that CENTCOM is releasing the real truth of what’s happening over there, which is patently false. That’s leaving “here’s our information resource” territory and entering the world of advocacy and spin, which makes it look more like a press organ of the militant wing of the Republican Party, rather than a professional and subservient armed force loyal to the entire Federal Government, not just the Commander-in-Chief.

  8. Thomas Nephew Says:

    “what’s really happening” [is] leaving “here’s our information resource” territory and entering the world of advocacy and spin…
    I think those are good distinctions, and get at what’s OK and what’s not with these kinds of things. The thing is, though, a CENTCOM site is almost by definition going to be spin of a sort — schools painted-, chocolates for the kids-, soldiers being professional-type stories. They’re all true, but I suspect CENTCOM Public Affairs just isn’t going to cover Abu Ghraib or Bagram detainee issues. Haven’t looked hard yet, though; maybe later this evening.

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