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Jewish World Review Nov. 12, 2001 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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To the generals: Don't worry about losing support -- GENERALS can't stand politicians who are armchair military strategists. But I'm getting pretty sick and tired of generals who are armchair political strategists. News accounts suggest that the Pentagon is filled with worries that the war in Afghanistan will turn into a long drawn-out affair which will rob them of the support of the American people. The theory goes that "when the body bags" start coming home that the U.S. public, fickle as always, will start getting restless and the clamor for a graceful exit will rise.


Here's my message to the Pentagon: Do whatever you like, wherever you like, and whenever you like. Accept whatever U.S. casualties are necessary. Inflict whatever collateral civilian casualties you must. The American people will stand by you. They will not flinch. The support for your efforts will remain strong and undiminished. The stakes in this war are unlike any other since World War II.

I hope those generals who worry about a public opinion backlash know more about fighting than they do about politics. The polling reflects that people strongly support the war. They anticipate that it will take years. They believe it will cost lots of US combat deaths. They understand that our allies may desert us. They grasp that there will be civilian casualties. And their message is very, very clear: we will still support this war even in the face of this adversity.

The Fox News/Opinion Dynamics polling of October 17-18 and November 3 both affirm this conclusion:

  • 89% support the war in Afghanistan

  • By 68-17, they would support it "even if it results in the loss of thousands of U.S. soldiers.

  • By 66-21, they would support it "even if it results in thousands of civilian deaths."

  • 77% want us to continue "even if our allies desert us and we have to fight alone."

  • By 77-16, they support the war "even if it takes five years."

  • 80% expect the war to take "a year or more."

If the military wants to ratchet up the war and trigger US casualties, Americans will back them up. We will mourn the dead but we will not falter in our support for the war. If the military wants to continue the war at its current pace, Americans will also back them up. By 78-16, voters reject the idea that the war is "not being prosecuted aggressively enough."

Americans feel personally vulnerable in a way they never have before. 59% say they feel the nation is at war. 47% worry about a bio-terrorist attack on themselves or their family. When you think that you are getting shot at, you think like a soldier. We are all in the Army now. We will accept the judgments of our commanding officers. We will try our best to implement them. If the generals screw up, we'll wish them better luck next time but our support will not falter.

Even the government's lame response to the Anthrax attacks draws the approval of 76% of the public. Americans are not going to disapprove of anything our government does about this war. Its not the way we think now that we are all soldiers. We trust our commanders. They are the only hope we have.

If ambitious or meddlesome politicians try to stir the pot by public criticism of our military action, they will be slitting their own throats. As Joe Biden is in the process of learning, the American people do not take well to public second guessing while we are being shot at. Senators and Congressmen should exercise their constitutional responsibilities in private. In public, we don't want to hear criticism of our leaders.

If military considerations dictate going slow, go slow. If they call for escalation, escalate. If massive commitment of ground troops is indicated, go right ahead. Don't worry about public opinion.

What is there about "yes" that you don't understand?

JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, The New Prince. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Dick Morris