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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

They Like Us, They Really Like Us

Representative John Murtha (D-PA) has declared that it is time to bring the troops home. Murtha claimed that "eighty percent of the Iraqis want us out of there." Further, he charged that "this war has been so mishandled" and our troops "have become the enemy."

Suddenly, Murtha is the darling of the media. But, is this because he speaks the truth, or because says what the media wants to broadcast? One must wonder for no one knew who Murtha was before his infamous "cut-n-run" speech on the floor of the U.S. Congress.

Meanwhile, Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT), after returning from his fourth visit to Iraq, spoke of the optimism that Iraqis have and warned us not to "seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory."

Remember Senator Lieberman? He was Al Gore's Vice-Presidential running-mate in 2000 and ran for President in 2004. Apparently, the media has already forgotten this once famous Democrat for his report has seen very little air-time.

So who is right? Do Iraqis want us to leave now? Do they reject the progress that we have made with them? Do they even like us?

Murtha bases his claims on a "secret poll" undertaken for the British Ministry of Defense. The poll was conducted in August by an "Iraqi university research team". Respondents were apparently limited to the "residents of Maysan province in southwestern Iraq". But, no other details of the poll were released. We don't know the number of respondents, the questions, or sampling procedures. All we have is the "conclusion" that 82% are "strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops".

However, does this really translate to "we want them out now"? Or does is simply mean that Iraqis want us to leave when the job is done?

Let's explore the other "findings" of this "secret poll":
  • Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province
  • Less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security
  • 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation
  • 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened
  • 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces
Still, there are many reasons to question the "secret poll". Did I mention that it is a "secret poll" whose methodology has not been revealed?

ABC News – hardly a cheerleader for the Bush Administration – released its own poll which claims that only 26% of Iraqis want U.S. troops to "leave now". That means 74% want U.S. troops to stay –31% "until security is restored", 19% "until the new government takes office", 16% "until Iraqi security forces can operate independently", and 5% "longer". (No, I don't know what happened to the missing 3%.)

It should be noted that Iraq sovereignty was turned over to the Iraqis in June of 2004. Our presence today and our presence after a duly elected Iraqi government takes office will be at the behest of the Iraqi government – the leaders that Iraqis elect to lead them.

As the ABC News poll also suggests, 57% prefer a democratic political structure. But, 70% approve of the new constitution – which defines a democratic political structure. Polls can be funny this way. How can 70% support a constitution of democracy while only 57% support democracy?


When considering the prospect of polling Iraqis, one must consider their history under Saddam's regime. If an Iraqi said the wrong thing to one of Saddam's loyalists, bad things happened. Torture and/or death often fell upon the family of the talkative Iraqi. To say something positive about America could be deadly. But, it was always safe to condemn the U.S. It pleased Saddam and fellow Iraqis who privately supported the U.S. understood that it was foolish to say so publicly.

For many parts of Iraq, this same fear still remains. As CNN's Anderson Cooper reports, it is difficult to interview Iraqis in public for they never know if terrorist insurgents are within earshot. It is always safe for Iraqis to publicly say that they want American troops to leave – even if this is contrary to their true opinion. To support the Americans within earshot of terrorists could mean torture and death. (Cooper was interviewed last week on Laura Ingraham's radio show while he was in Iraq.)

We know that this state of fear is easing across the country for many U.S. troops have reported that Iraqis are turning in terrorist insurgents with greater frequency. Still, it is not always safe to speak positively about American troops when participating in a poll. Odds are high that Iraqi support for our mission is far greater than polls report.


As we know from our own experience, polls can easily be conducted to conclude what the pollster wants to promote. The methodologies and questions must be carefully scrutinized to interpret what they actually mean. But, in the end, the only polls that really matter are those conducted on Election Day:
  • January 31, 2005, 60% of registered Iraqi voters voted in Iraq's first free election. Doom and Gloomers on the left predicted a low turnout with massive terrorist activity. They were wrong.
  • October 15, 2005, 61% voted in Iraq's first election to ratify a constitution. Terrorist attacks were few and useless.
  • December 15, 2005, over 70% -- nearly 11 million – voted to elect Iraq's new government. Again, terrorists were unable to deter the Iraqi march to freedom.
Terrorist insurgents have been aggressively discouraging the democratic process in Iraq. They have threatened and terrorized Iraqis in an effort to discourage their participation in the voting booth. Still, contrary to the findings of Murtha's "secret poll", most Iraqis felt secure enough to venture to the polls. Clearly, their confidence in our troops and in their mission is significantly higher than reported in the secret polls that Murtha and his allies promote. Clearly, as many American troops have reported – they like us, they really like us.


Blogger Right Hook said...

This is good news, but whether or not the Iraqis "like us" is irrelevant as to whether or not the troops should remain.

Iraq is a strategically important piece of real estate between Iran and Syria, both countries that are instigators and supporters of terrorism that will need to be dealt with in the on-going Global War on Terror.

We cannot allow Iraq to fall into the control of a terrorist state or to become one again.

12/21/2005 9:04 AM  

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