A poll by Time/ABC News posted yesterday on Time.com presented some revealing statistics. It is quite optimistic, and belies the oft-repeated statement by leading Democrats that 80% of Iraqis want the U.S. to leave immediately. All the same, Time highlights survey results that suggest Iraqis think we are doing a lousy job and want us out of there. ("What Do The Iraqis Really Want? On the eve of their election, a TIME-ABC News poll shows, Iraqis are surprisingly upbeat--yet critical of the U.S." See: www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1139829,00.html).
What they don't bother to analyze are the blatant contradictions to this negative assessment, plain from the statistics to anyone who gives them even a cursory review.
Among the heartening opinions cited are the following:
- 71% of Iraqis believe their lives are going very well, 64% believe their lives will be better one year from now and 69% believe conditions in Iraq overall will be better.
- 63% feel "very safe" in their own neighborhoods.
- 70% believe the security situation will be improved a year from now.
- Overall 51% believe life is better since the war, but this statistic is skewed heavily downward by Sunni responses, where only 25% believe this. In Kurdish and Shi'ite areas 73% and 59% respectively believe life is better.
- This optimistic outlook is shared in Baghdad, where 59% think life is better since the war and 70% feel safe in their own neighborhoods. This despite the almost daily news reports of suicide bombings and other attacks there.
- In the entire country, 63% approve of the new constitution. In Kurdish areas it's a whopping 91%, in the Shi'ite areas 82% approve and in Baghdad, 70% approve.
- 76% of Iraqis believe the elections will create a stable government.
- 80% of Kurds and 58% of Shi'ites believe America was right to invade. Even in Baghdad, 47% agree with this statement. Only 16% of Sunnis agree.
Now, all these rosy statistics are intermixed with negative views on the Coalition occupation. For example:
- 64% of the country claims to "Oppose coalition forces."
- 59% think we are doing a bad job of carrying out post-war responsibilities.
- 41% thought the security situation had improved over the past year while 31% thought it hadn't. Of this latter group 34% thought the deterioration was caused by our troops. Only 17% thought it was caused by the terrorists. (I wonder who gave those answers.)
However, these statistics conflict with other revealing answers in the poll. To wit:
- Whereas 57% listed "regaining public security" as their main priority for the coming year, only 10% listed "Getting U.S. forces out". In other words, getting our troops out in the coming year is not a main priority for 90% of Iraqis.
- Only 26% of Iraqis would like to see us leave now (not the 80% cited relentlessly by Democrats).
- Fully 66% want us to stay until either "security is restored" (31%), "a new government is in place" (19%), or " when Iraqi security forces are ready" (16%).
If such polls are to be believed in the first place (a big "if" in a nation terrorized into submission for over thirty years), what the Iraqis seem to be saying is that while they might wish we were doing a better job - so do I - they still rightly believe we are the most important element in guaranteeing they will eventually have a stable, secure country.
There is another influence reflected in these statistics that Leftist journals like Time stubbornly ignore. Iraqis who publicly express any positive opinion about the U.S. risk death, and can put their entire family at risk to boot. This is especially true in the Sunni areas, which harbor most of the terrorists. Local populations there are little more than hostages of the enemy.
Furthermore, given the press propensity to remain safely within the Green Zone and rely extensively on pre-war Ba’athist contacts for views of the Sunni “man on the street”, that portion of the poll is highly suspect at best. Finally, the Arab press is vitriolically opposed to the U.S. presence and barrages the Arab street with anti-U.S., pro-terrorist propaganda on a daily basis.
These facts may explain seeming inconsistencies in the poll, and doubless skew the overall results against the Coalition. Were this pervasive, systemic intimidation and propaganda not part and parcel of the average Iraqi's daily fare, it is likely their assessments of the U.S. presence would be much more positive.
After all, it is our efforts, and our efforts alone, that have allowed for the vast improvements cited in this poll by a nascent Iraqi nation. Time and many other Western news outlets make the heroic assumption that the average Iraqi feels as free, secure and unconstrained to speak as someone from say, Des Moines, Iowa. Were this true, despite our occasional bumbling, all Iraqis, save perhaps the Ba’athist holdouts, would be singing our praises. From the results of this poll, it would appear that most are anyway.