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Ignoring Iraqi Opinion in the Name of Democracy


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#1    Chauncy

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 08:39 PM

  FAIR-L
                    Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
               Media analysis, critiques and activism

MEDIA ADVISORY:
Ignoring Iraqi Opinion in the Name of Democracy

June 2, 2004

Despite growing calls from within the foreign policy establishment for a
reconsideration of the U.S. military presence in Iraq, most mainstream
pundits and commentators continue to argue that the U.S. has no choice but
to tough it out.  According to a survey of editorial opinion by Editor &
Publisher (5/7/04), the trade publication of the newspaper industry, "the
vast majority of America's large newspapers favored this approach to Iraq:
Stay the course."

But with resistance to the U.S.-led occupation forces showing no signs of
fading away, some journalists have cast a worried glance at Iraqi public
opinion.  Establishing a democratic government responsive to popular
wishes is the main rationale for keeping U.S. soldiers in Iraq.  So if
ordinary Iraqis reject the coalition's continued military presence,
defending the mission becomes an increasingly awkward task.

In recent weeks, two important scientific polls of Iraqi opinion have been
published, and neither offered much solace for those who support staying
the course.  A Gallup poll conducted mostly in late March-- before the
recent sieges of Fallujah and Najaf-- showed that "a solid majority
support an immediate military pullout." (Results at
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/20...oll-cover_x.htm
Fifty-seven percent said the coalition should "leave immediately" rather
than "stay longer" (36 percent).

Among respondents in Shi'ite and Sunni Arab areas-- that is, leaving out
Kurdish respondents-- the numbers favoring an immediate pullout were even
higher: 61 percent to 30 percent among Shi'ites and 65 percent to 27
percent among Sunnis.  In Baghdad, where U.S. forces are concentrated, the
numbers were highest of all: 75 percent favored an immediate pullout, with
only 21 percent opposed.

Overall, 55 percent of Shi'ites and 57 percent of Sunnis said attacks
against coalition forces were at least sometimes justified, while the
proportion of Baghdadis who believe this has risen to 67 percent, up from
36 percent the last time Gallup asked them this question a year ago.

Meanwhile, according to a new poll from the Iraq Center for Research and
Strategic Studies, which is partly funded by the State Department and has
coordinated its work with the Coalition Provisional Authority, more than
half of all Iraqis-- including the Kurds-- want an immediate withdrawal of
U.S. forces, up from 17 percent last October.  The same poll found that 68
percent of Iraqis support Moqtada al-Sadr, including a third who say they
"strongly support" him (Financial Times, 5/20/04; Philadelphia Inquirer,
5/9/04).

The polls cited above are the only scientific measures of recent Iraqi
opinion in existence.  Yet despite these clear signs that Iraqis want U.S.
troops out, some journalists have clung to hopes, unsupported by real
evidence, that the bulk of the population still quietly supports an
American presence.

"For Americans grasping for a reason to stay optimistic about their
experiment in Iraq, it may be this," wrote the New York Times' Ian Fisher
(5/23/04): "There are still far more people... who are skeptical of, and
maybe even hate, the Americans but see them as the only way to save
themselves."  As evidence for this, Fisher cited a poll.  But it was not
either of the scientific surveys released by professional polling agencies
lately. Instead, it was a tally conducted by Sadim Samir, a 23-year-old
political science student at the University of Baghdad, who "canvassed
five neighborhoods" of Baghdad for a "class paper."

"The answer that everyone gave was, 'It's been a year, and they have done
nothing for us,'" he said. "But after that I asked, 'Do you want them to
leave?' And they all said, 'No. It's going to be more chaotic.'"  Somehow,
Samir apparently found 100 percent of Baghdadis opposed to a U.S. pullout,
even though Gallup, with its 3,000-respondent sample size, found 75
percent of them favoring one immediately.

A column from New York Times pundit Thomas Friedman (5/16/04) likewise
posited the existence of an Iraqi "silent majority" that firmly rejects
al-Sadr.  Citing a demonstration held in Najaf to protest fighting between
the cleric and American forces, Friedman asked: "Will the silent
majorities in both countries [Iraq and Israel] finally turn against these
extremist minorities to save their future?"

A USA Today editorial (5/25/04) played dumb about the depth of support for
anti-coalition attacks, asserting that "the number of attackers and the
extent of their support among Iraqis angry about the U.S. occupation are
unknown"-- even though the Gallup poll cited above was conducted on behalf
of USA Today and was discussed at length in its pages (4/28/04).

Following the recent cease-fire deal between the U.S. and the forces of
Moqtada al-Sadr, Fox News' all-star pundit panel concluded that Sadr
lacked genuine popular support (Special Report, 5/26/04).  "Al-Sadr is on
the run," declared Charles Krauthammer.  "The insurgency has failed. He
did not have popular support.  Sadr was caught between the anvil of Shiia,
who didn't like him, who opposed him, and the hammer of American military.
And he is powder."

"He said uncle!" chimed in Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard.  Centrist
commentator Jeff Birnbaum agreed with his co-panelists about Sadr's lack
of support.  None of the men mentioned the Iraqi poll showing two-thirds
of the population supporting Sadr.  Days later, the cease-fire began
faltering.

Although some prominent pundits have become more forthright about the
evidence on Iraqi public opinion-- Newsweek writer Fareed Zakaria cited
data on support for al-Sadr in a May 24 column-- others continue to appear
squeamish about delivering the bad news.  Yet as the media continue to
report on the purported handover of sovereignty in Iraq this summer, they
cannot afford to ignore the only hard evidence about how Iraqis themselves
perceive the situation.

      ----------


As long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost and science can never regress.
Julius Robert Oppenheimer. (1904-1967)
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#2    Fluffybunny

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 09:08 PM

It is a horrible situation that we are in right now. After starting what we did, we cant just leave the Iraqi citizens in the lurch. We are obligated to do the best we can to stablize a region that has hisotically been pretty unstable...

When I was getting my pilots license one of the things that my instructor repeatedly told me applies here: "Take-offs are optional. Landings are mandatory." It is true, once we started the invasion we put ourselves in a postion to follow through to the end, whatever that end may be.

I think at this point we are damned either way. If we stay long enough to stablize the region, we are going to upset the folks that want us out of the country immediately.

It would only give them more reasons to hate us.

If we leave immediately, we are going to upset the folks that want us to finish what we started and not leave the country in chaos.

It would only give them more reasons to hate us.

I think we started something that can only end badly for us. Had we had worldwide support for the invasion, that would be one thing. At least then we could say that we did it along with the rest of the world in the entire worlds best interest.
That doesn't appear to have been the case, and we have painted ourselves into a corner...

Too many people on both sides of the spectrum have fallen into this mentality that a full one half of the country are the enemy for having different beliefs...in a country based on freedom of expression. It is this infighting that allows the focus to be taken away from "we the people" being able to watch, and have control over government corruption and ineptitude that is running rampant in our leadership.

People should be working towards fixing problems, not creating them.

#3    Stamford

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 08:45 AM

Well said, as usual fluffster.

The facts are that the infrastructure of Iraq, which we are responsible has not been rebuilt even after a year.

The streets of Bagdad, according to a report published in The Independent this week, continually overflow with sewerage, hospitals are low on medicine, power blackouts occur on a regular basis and lawlessness continues in most parts of the country.

The Iraqi people are witnessing our combined forces being subjected to continuous attacks, including humiliating withdrawls from certain cities and the new Iraqi security forces are being targeted by insurgents and masacred on a regular basis.

Not inspiring stuff for a people who have been promised a new start.

You are right though, we have to stay the distance now, because if we don't we leave the door open for another Talibanesque style take over and we're back to square one; well that's not quite true, because we are far more despised now than when we went in.



"The future's uncertain and the end is always near."

Jim Morrison

"When you laugh about people, so very, very lonely their only desire is to die, well I'm afraid it doesn't make me smile. I wish I could laugh. But that joke isn't funny anymore, it's too close to home and it's too near the bone... "

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#4    Chauncy

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 01:47 PM

I was speaking to an Iraqi cab driver in my community, he explained it to me as such.

He said the Iraqis hated Hussien, they wanted liberation from this iron fisted rule. They also do not want the Americans there, he said the general concensus of the Iraqi people is that getting help from the Americans is like making a deal with the Devil, there's no way you will come out on top.

He also said that the family he has over there refer to the Americans as the Christian Army that has invaded them.

My view is to finish what was started and bring these people into the 21st century.

As long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost and science can never regress.
Julius Robert Oppenheimer. (1904-1967)
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#5    wunarmdscissor

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 03:14 PM

See if they didnt have oil, we wouldnt give a rats arse about them, and see as soon as we develop the new ways of powering everything other than fossil fuels we will leave them to it.

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#6    Stamford

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 03:44 PM

QUOTE
See if they didnt have oil, we wouldnt give a rats arse about them


Yep, Wunarm, probably why no one seems to give a toss about North Korea and they have the human rights violations and the WMDs that we cared so much about when it came to Iraq.

I think the oil thing must have had something to do with our willingness to sacrafice all those lifes, not to mention the money.



"The future's uncertain and the end is always near."

Jim Morrison

"When you laugh about people, so very, very lonely their only desire is to die, well I'm afraid it doesn't make me smile. I wish I could laugh. But that joke isn't funny anymore, it's too close to home and it's too near the bone... "

The Smiths

#7    wunarmdscissor

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 04:32 PM

QUOTE
I think the oil thing must have had something to do with our willingness to sacrafice all those lifes, not to mention the money.


Lets not kid ourselves here , this is what its all about.

Id support the war if they told me the truth, but theyre lying about it.

Stand up for the Champions
'MON the tic an tiocfaidh ar-la


saorsa na h-alba

#8    Fluffybunny

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 09:12 PM

QUOTE (wunarmdscissor @ Jun 3 2004, 09:32 AM)
Lets not kid ourselves here , this is what its all about.

I am afraid that you are right on this matter.

I read years ago on a conspiracy website about a theory that the US governement has been trying to buy as much oil from the middle east as possible in order to drain their reserves. All while keeping from tapping reserves that the US knows about in our country as well as huge reserves that have been found in the gulf of Mexico.

The conspiracy goes that when the middle east runs dry of oil(estimated to happen in a very short persiod of time, 20-30 years), they will no longer be a threat to anyone else in the world as they will no longer have the finances to do any terrorism on a large scale...Basically they will lose all of their power and fall off the map...

The reasons that we have invaded Iraq for have happened to several other countries without so much as the US lifting a finger to help. North Korea and the horrors going on in Africa are just the tip of the miserable iceberg. I would be that if large oils reserves were found in Sudan, we would be there handing out TV Dinners in bulk and trying to establish a better form of government that would work harder to take care of it's own people...



Too many people on both sides of the spectrum have fallen into this mentality that a full one half of the country are the enemy for having different beliefs...in a country based on freedom of expression. It is this infighting that allows the focus to be taken away from "we the people" being able to watch, and have control over government corruption and ineptitude that is running rampant in our leadership.

People should be working towards fixing problems, not creating them.

#9    Chauncy

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 09:37 PM

I know the Bushs are built on oil money so I'm with you guys on the oil motivation.

On another thread someone mentioned the possibility that the desire to control the oil was to take it off the market as a fuel source. I see the tapping of more Alaskan oil to be contradicting this theory.

You guys see any possibility in this theory?


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As long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost and science can never regress.
Julius Robert Oppenheimer. (1904-1967)
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#10    GA6540

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Posted 05 June 2004 - 07:37 PM

QUOTE (wunarmdscissor @ Jun 3 2004, 05:32 PM)
QUOTE
I think the oil thing must have had something to do with our willingness to sacrafice all those lifes, not to mention the money.


Lets not kid ourselves here , this is what its all about.

Id support the war if they told me the truth, but theyre lying about it.

please tell me would you expect anything less from the bush adm? wavey.gif  





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