Advocates of staying and fighting in Iraq are at a distinct disadvantage in the second war. The burden of the Iraq fighting falls on such a small number of military families that it is easy to portray the troops in the field as victims. This has proved an effective strategy for Virginia's junior senator, Jim Webb, a staunch opponent of the surge. Once seen as an irascible loose cannon, he has used his experience in the Pentagon -- he served as Ronald Reagan's assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs and had a brief, controversial stint as secretary of the Navy -- to mount a disciplined attack on the Bush administration's personnel policy, what you might call the soft underbelly of the surge.
Politically speaking, advocates of withdrawal are in a bind. Though all depends on how the question is asked, a CNN poll conducted in late April found that only a third of Americans say they want all U.S. troops out of Iraq immediately. Another third want to withdraw some troops, and a fifth want troop levels to stay where they are. Despite the general unpopularity of the Iraq war, Cindy Sheehan-esque calls for bugging out aren't popular.
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