Monday, October 23, 2006

What Iraqis say - Should we leave?

USA Today has published today a Gallup survey about Iraq. Here are some interesting results:

"Taking everything into account, do you think the coalition invasion of Iraq has done more harm than good or more good than harm?
More harm 46%
More good 33%
The same 16%

Is Iraq much better off, somewhat better off, somewhat worse off or much worse off than before the U.S. invasion?
Much better off 11%
Somewhat better off 31%
About the same 17%
Somewhat worse off 24%
Much worse off 15%

Are you and your family much better off, somewhat better off, somewhat worse off or much worse off than before the US invasion?
Much better off 14%
Somewhat better off 37%
About the same 25%
Somewhat worse off 15%
Much worse off 10%

It is interesting how these last 2 questions show clearly what I spoke about on the last post about media bias. The difference between what people think is happening to the country (39% think is worse now) compared to what actually happens to them (only 25% say it is worse now). Amazing.

But let’s continue:

"To what extent can you personally justify the following actions morally?
Current attacks against US forces in Iraq

Cannot at all 25%
Cannot somewhat 22%
Sometime can/can’t 22%
Can somewhat 17%
Can completely 13%

Attacks and bombings targeting Iraqi police
Cannot at all 81%
Cannot somewhat 11%
Sometime can/can’t 4%
Can somewhat 2%
Can completely 1%

Only 30% thinks it is ok to attack Americans. It is a lot of people obviously, but it’s a lot less than the media implies.

Now the really important and surprising stat: only 3% thinks it’s ok to fight the Iraqi police! How can I country in civil war think that? Something does not add up here…

"Should US/British forces leave immediately (next few months) or stay longer?
Immediately 57%
Stay longer 36%

How have US forces conducted themselves?
Very well 10%
Fairly well 24%
Fairly badly 29%
Very badly 29%
Don’t know 9%

Do you say this from personal experience, from things you’ve seen yourself or from what you’ve heard?
Personal experience 7%
You’ve seen 39%
You’ve heard 54%

You or members of your household had any personal contact with US military forces?
Yes 6%

Wow. If only 6-7% had personal experiences how can 67% think that the troops did not behave well? Can you spell hearsay?

"Do you think now of Coalition forces mostly as occupiers or mostly as liberators?
Occupiers 71%
Liberators 19%
Both 8%

At the time of the invasion, did you think of Coalition forces mostly as occupiers or mostly as liberators?
Occupiers 43%
Liberators 43%
Both 9%

If Coalition left today, would you feel safer or less safe?
More safe 28%
Less safe 53%
No difference 12%
Don’t know 8%

Ok, so people are considerably more hostile to the US. However, only 28% would feel safer if we left… Does that mean that they only want us out for pride? Hmmm.

Now look at this:

"Thinking about any hardships you might have suffered since the US/British invasion, do you personally think that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it or not?
Worth it 61%
Not worth it 28%

Has there been an increase or a decrease in the family income compared to that of before the war?
Increase a lot 5%
Increase somewhat 36%
Same 43%
Decrease somewhat 12%
Decrease a lot 4%

All of this is enormously different than what the American press portrays. I wonder if the people who believe in the 650000 deaths poll have any type of explanation for this.

In any case, what to make of all of this? A few things in my opinion:

- Violence against Iraqis (civilian and police) seems to be either exaggerated or coming from an underground movement that has no public support.
- Americans public image is deteriorating.
- Iraqis seem to be afraid that we have some ulterior motive, like setting up military bases and staying there forever.
- They also seem to believe that they would be able to keep it up, even though they expect the violence to grow. This part makes me suspicious.

So, should we just leave?

The American objective currently is to have a government that is at least not supportive of terrorists. Would leaving now help or hurt this objective?

Another thing to consider is that American will is faltering. If democrats win this midterm election, there is a big chance that Republicans will change their tactics and accept a quicker withdrawal. Look at what Kerry and Hillary have been saying.

So even though staying the course is probably the best military option, politically we might be getting close to a point of where a withdrawal is inevitable.

Let’s hope we can pull this one off.