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[casi] Re: The same old academic findings re: US public support of war

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Mr. Hurd:  Why repeat this academic rehashing of the point that the US public
will tolerate an Iraqi war? It is one thing to want to get a realistic
assessment of the chances for war and support of it, and quite another to keep
hammering the point that such support is set in stone. Why don't these
academics reframe the questions and start asking those they are polling
different questions. For example: how would you feel sending your son or
daughter to war to kill and be killed if the object of the war was the control
over Middle East oil to the benefit of the transnational companies? Doesn't
this question make at least as much sense as the questions our intellectual
experts are asking? The discourse box within which the academics work and from
which they produce expert findings is as limited as the discourse coming from
the mainstream US media, where, eventually, this academic drivel gets
published and the info disseminated.    Daniel.
>From: "Nathaniel Hurd"
>Subject: [casi] US Casualty Tolerance Study - Note from Authors
>Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 14:10:08 -0400
>I recently corresponded with Peter Feaver, Duke University Professor
>Political Science and Triangle
>Institute for
>Security Studies, Project on the Gap between the Military and
>Society 1999 study co-author. He further commented on the study and
>authorized me to release his comments. Comment attribution and
>belongs to Feaver and another study author, Christopher Gelpi, Duke
>University Associate Professor of Political Science
>Below are the comments. Please note that the remark, "I am not sure
>would fully agree with the way the unnamed Bush administration
>source used
>that finding.", is a response to the Nicholas Lehmann New Yorker
>Best wishes,
>Source: Peter Feaver and Christopher Gelpi, e-mail note to Nathaniel
>14 October 2002
>I am not sure we would fully agree with the way the unnamed Bush
>administration source used that finding. That figure represents the
>response to our question, which surely represents an upper-bound
>We used means and mean-based estimators in our initial analyses (one
>of which was published in the Wash Post in Oct/Nov 1999), but since
>have switched to median and median-based estimators which better
>public attitudes on casualty sensitivity. When one uses
>estimators, the figures drop dramatically, into the several
>That said, our analysis certainly supports the larger points:
>* the public is not casualty-phobic, knee-jerk opposed to any
>casualties and
>eager to cut and run at the first sight of blood. The public is
>described as "defeat phobic" rather than "casualty phobic." If the
>casualties are necessary to produce a clear victory, the public will
>* public attitudes towards casualties fit a rational calculus. They
>prefer to win with fewer casualties, so any poll that asks about
>will see a drop off in support. But even with warnings of high
>there is still a very large reservoir of support for military action
>especially against perceived threats like Hussein -- and a capable
>Administration can readily mobilize that support.
>* In any case, the military seem more casualty averse than the
>public. This may be because the military is more doubtful about
>leadership or more convinced that the public is truly casualty
>phobic. It
>is not simply because the military are the ones who are going to die
>mere self-interested self-preservation).
>Would the public turn on the Iraqi mission if U.S. casualties
>climbed into
>the tens of thousands? They might, especially if the casualties
>were framed
>as evidence the US was botching the mission, making stupid mistakes,
>If the Bush administration was as inept in framing the mission as
>was the
>Clinton administration in Somalia, then that number could be
>for public support. But if the Bush Administration was able to
>frame those
>casualties as proof that Hussein was a menace and needed to be
>then public support could be maintained.
>Nathaniel Hurd
>90 7th Ave.
>Apt. #6
>Brooklyn, NY 11217
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>Tel. (H): 718-857-7639
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