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Chauncy

Ignoring Iraqi Opinion in the Name of Democracy

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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.

----------

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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...

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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.

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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.

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See if they didnt have oil, we wouldnt give a rats **** 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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See if they didnt have oil, we wouldnt give a rats **** 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.

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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.

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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...

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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?

post-63-1086298643.jpg

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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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