Thursday, April 29, 2004

Iraq poll

A poll published in yesterday's USA Today is really interesting. At first glance, the negative attitudes leap off the screen. And, they do have to be taken very seriously. More respondents thought that the invasion had done more harm than good (Q3). This is particularly the case in Baghdad and among Sunnis.

However, read further and you see some strange, (apparently) contradictory responses. 61% of respondents thought that the hardships they have endured were "worth it" to get rid of Saddam (Q23).

Another curiosity is that more people claim that they and their families are better off (51% - Q5) than believe Iraq is better off (42% - Q4). Most Iraqis want the coalition to leave now (Q8), but would feel less safe if that happened (Q16).

Taken together, it seems to me that the objective remains valid, but that the implementation has been disappointing. The Iraqi people are happy Saddam is gone and do feel that they are better off without him. They've even experienced a rise in their incomes, for the most part (Q24).

However, they obviously do not feel secure and don't think the coalition will bring security, which explains why they think the country is doing worse than they are. Although they're personally doing better, they're afraid it's going to come crashing down on them. This is probably unsurprising given what's happening now, but is food for thought for everyone.

The war was "worth it", but the post-war experience has been bad. {I think a certain feeling of uncertainty was inevitable after the war, but it's pretty clear that what's been happening the past few weeks/months is seriously exacerbating this problem.}

I still believe that during the planning stages (in 2002) the Administration didn't seriously believe that they would not have UN backing for the post-war period and failed to plan accordingly. The invasion went ahead last spring because it had to, otherwise those 250,000 troops would have to have been taken out of the region. You can't keep an army at full readiness forever.

I think this whole enterprise could have been resoundingly successful for the US, the EU, Russia and UN had it been carried out with the support of all the big partners. Instead we have a half successful war and too much uncertainty in the present. How we got here doesn't really matter now, but the situation has to be transformed. More American troops, UN take over, whatever. Iraq must be pacified and put on the path to a (relatively) free society.

Other poll notables:
  • Sunnis are least happy with the invasion, coaltion, etc.; the Kurds are over the moon about it all
  • If President Bush loses in November, I'm sure he could get a job in Kurdish Iraq. His approval ratings there are 95%
  • Not much difference in how Iraqis perceive Tony Blair or Jacques Chirac
  • Only a third of people can get al Jazeera or al Arabiya