Survey shows majority of Iraqis disapprove of invasion

by Chris Bertram on December 12, 2005

I’d decided to self-impose a moratorium on commenting on the ramblings of the “pro-war left”, but I’m roused by a post on Normblog entitled At variance with certain depictions in which Geras claims that a new survey of Iraqi opinion (PDF) gives a more positive view of life there than we get from unspecified sources of whom he clearly disapproves. He specifically draws attention to a vox pop section of the BBC page where one ordinary Iraqi voices the opinion that:

The US invasion was a really good thing and the presence of the US troops is really important now.

Now I’m sure that any selection of material by Geras was intended to be in line with the standards of balance and accuracy normally to be found on his site, but I fear he’s slipped up in failing to notice the responses to the following question:

From today’s perspective and all things considered, was it absolutely right, somewhat right, somewhat wrong or absolutely wrong that US-led coalition forces invaded Iraq in Spring 2003?

Today 50.3 per cent of Iraqis polled answered that the invasion was somewhat or absolutely wrong. That’s an increase from 39.1 per cent in last year’s survey .

{ 94 comments }

1

Guy 12.12.05 at 8:13 am

I also saw the BBC survey and wrote a little something on it. I do not get these polls.

71% of those interviewed find their current lives “very or quite good” while 50.3% of the polled found the invasion wrong…

How many books would one have to write to explain that? Colour me puzzled.

2

Brendan 12.12.05 at 8:19 am

Looking at Norm’s actual post one can see that, as with most of the pro-invasion left who claim to stand up for ‘science’ rather than ‘superstition’ and the ‘Enlightenment Project’ over ‘irrationalism’, he has little or no understanding of what social science actually is or how it works.

Point one: as someone else pointed out on this blog (sorry can’t remember who) all this information about optimism etc. is meaningless unless one knows what the tendency for this variable was before the invasion . Now I have heard (don’t know for sure: sources welcome) that in fact optimism has been rising in similar opinion polls in Iraq since the early ’90s . If true, then of course the current rise in optimism in Iraq could not possibly be the result of the invasion.

As for the rest of his post: the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’.

However, aside from Norm’s desperate attempts to persuade himself that he is friends from the Iraqi people (a people we should never forget, whose language he does not speak, whose culture he does not understand, and whose country he has never visited and has no intention of visiting) someone else from the pro-invasion left said something interesting recently.

In his most recent article for the New Statesman, in which Cohen stressed yet again his love for the foreign policy of George Bush, he let slip in the final paragraph: ‘Although we (i.e. the pro-invasion left) are in a minority, we believe we will win in the end….’

Why thank you Nick!

For years, we will remember, the party line was that the pro-invasion left were the ‘majority’ of (Iraqi AND British) public opinion, and that it was the ‘metropolitan elite’ who were unrepresentative.

Now, however, with opinion poll data, showing in poll after poll after poll just how unpopular this war is with British people, and Iraqi people and Americans (not to mention South Americans and Chinese and Indians and….) at least the pro-invasion left are now prepared to concede that THEY are the tiny middle class (aspiring) elite attempting to impose THEIR solutions to complex problems on the rest of us, and that they do NOT represent the ‘silent majority’ but instead the vocal (and in Hitchens and Cohen’s case) well paid minority.

Although like Lenin and other elitists and believers in the right of (unelected…i don’t recall the elections that voted Cohen and Hitchens into power) minorities to dictate policy to the rest of us, they believe that they will ‘win in the end’, at least they now accept the hostility of ordinary British (and American and Iraqi) people to their ‘project’.

Which is nice.

3

dsquared 12.12.05 at 8:32 am

How many books would one have to write to explain that? Colour me puzzled.

I think the title would be “Majority of Iraqis Not Afflicted By The Sunk-Cost Fallacy”.

4

dsquared 12.12.05 at 8:35 am

btw, to expand on the above, I do think it’s terribly ironic that a survey of the Iraqi hoi polloi can get it straight in their heads that there’s a difference between believing “the Iraq invasion ended up having some favourable consequences and things are getting better in Iraq” and “the Iraq invasion was on balance justified” but a Professor of Political Philosophy seemingly can’t. Talk about the Wisdom of Crowds.

5

Kieran Healy 12.12.05 at 8:38 am

71% of those interviewed find their current lives “very or quite good” while 50.3% of the polled found the invasion wrong…

How many books would one have to write to explain that? Colour me puzzled.

Well, an only sort-of glib answer is both can in fact be true at the same time.

Surveys often produce responses like this. It can happen for a lot of reasons — besides the case where both things are true, I mean. For instance, people may be unwilling to admit that they’re unhappy in general (“How are you?” “Oh, fine”), but be more likely to complain about specific things. Or they may be thinking about their happiness in terms of the present and future prospects (why dwell on the past?), but have a different assessment of some earlier event.

Looking at the size of the change from the last time may be more illuminating, assuming the wording hasn’t changed. The swing Chris cites is a big one.

Comparing the two surveys, it looks like confidence in the occupation forces (which was very low to begin with) has declined further over the past year.

6

Jimmy Doyle 12.12.05 at 8:59 am

It’s hard to see how judgements of culpability can track verdicts about objective wrongness, in the eyes of the Iraqis, unless they credit the coalition with dramatically more effective powers of foresight than they attribute to themselves. That is, if an Iraqi was convinced at the time of the invasion that it was right, but is now convinced that it is wrong, he cannot blame the coalition, for doing what he now thinks is wrong, unless he thinks that they were in a position to know (or reasonably believe) *then* what he has only (by his own lights) realised *now*. This kind of asymmetry in the predictive powers of the coalition and the Iraqis is quite possible, because the coalition’s stated predictions were partly a matter of their assessment of their own capabilities, which they were naturally in a better position to make, and partly a matter of their own intentions, about which they were theoretically infallible. The polls in 2003 indicating majority support among Iraqis for the war may therefore not have had the sort of justifying force many on the pro-war side found in them – which is not to say that those on the other side were justified in simply ignoring them, as they nearly all did. The epistemic situation of many pro-war commentators was rather closer to that of the Iraqis than to that of the coalition. Two months ago, in a post entitled “Narcissism and the pro-war left,” you said “Good intentions should count for nothing here. You [sc pro-war types] backed a disastrous project, mismanaged by morons, sold by lies, and it has turned into a bloody mess.” But it seems that a majority of Iraqis would be subject to the same accusation; and it was precisely their stated views that seemed so decisive to many on the pro-war side. Evaluation of the various pundits’ predictive and reflective performances is hardly the most important issue right now, but if we’re going to go in for it we should resist any suggestion that it is simply a matter of waiting and seeing what happens and then awarding points accordingly. It may have been reasonable to believe very different things at different times.

7

abb1 12.12.05 at 9:07 am

Hey, yo sociologists, is this typical for a survey to collect free-form answers rather than giving multiple choice?

Like the number 4 of the “things which make you feel insecure” is “lack of security” – how silly is that?

8

Stephen 12.12.05 at 9:15 am

Oh Dear Chris

I can just imagine your pouty sulk as you read the BBC report and Normans piece. You then sat down to write your pithy reply

yeah but no but yeah but no but….etc.

9

Kieran Healy 12.12.05 at 9:16 am

Hey, yo sociologists, is this typical for a survey to collect free-form answers rather than giving multiple choice?

For some questions, open-ended responses are appropriate, yes: you want to let the respondents set the agenda.

Like the number 4 of the “things which make you feel insecure” is “lack of security” – how silly is that?

It’s not that silly — in this context it’s obvious that “lack of security” means “car bombs” and the like.

10

Bob B 12.12.05 at 9:29 am

“they believe that they will ‘win in the end’, at least they now accept the hostility of ordinary British (and American and Iraqi) people to their ‘project’. Which is nice.”

That is but another regretable example of what I believe is officially termed “false consciousness”.

11

abb1 12.12.05 at 9:34 am

Thanks Kieran. Still, even if “lack of security” means “car bombs” and the like, this approach seems to dilute the findings: isn’t ‘terrorism’ also “car bombs” and the like? And sometimes it sounds just plain absurd: to blame ‘arrests’ for the lack of security? Clearly not ‘arrests’, but ‘government repression’ or something.

Funny that only 47% feel that they have more freedom of speech than they did before the war.

12

Per 12.12.05 at 9:45 am

Iraq Analysis Group tries to maintain a comprehensive list of significant polls of Iraqi opinion available in English which you may find interesting.

13

Marc Mulholland 12.12.05 at 9:47 am

The problem remains of people who are now dead who otherwise wouldn’t be. They do not participate in opinion polls.

Even if it is true that people are happier now in Iraq that before the invasion – which is certainly concievable though I’d need a bit more persauding – it does not follow that their ultimate sacrifice to an externally driven process of liberation from Saddam is thereby justified.

On Dsquared’s point, I reckon that Norm’s blog is polemical rather than scholarly. Principally it seems to be a daily record of his disenchantment with the Guardian. I rather wish that he would spare himself over the breakfast table, and just switch to the Telegraph or something.

14

dsquared 12.12.05 at 9:51 am

The thing I find quite extraordinary about Normblog is that if you aren’t concentrating, half the items appear to be “Look at this story in the Guardian! Why doesn’t the Guardian cover stories like this? An excellent article from the Guardian; not that you’ll ever see anything like this in the Guardian! Disgusting piece here in the Guardian – the author ought to be forced to read this excellent account from the Guardian”.

15

Kieran Healy 12.12.05 at 9:54 am

Still, even if “lack of security” means “car bombs” and the like, this approach seems to dilute the findings: isn’t ‘terrorism’ also “car bombs” and the like? And sometimes it sounds just plain absurd: to blame ‘arrests’ for the lack of security? Clearly not ‘arrests’, but ‘government repression’ or something.

Yeah, I see what you mean — I was looking at a different question. Question 35 looks like it asked for up to three things that made people feel insecure or unsafe (or whether they felt safe). 51 percent say they feel safe. 22 percent say “Terrorism.” 2.9 percent say “Lack of Security.” The latter seems like an understandable response, if only because phrases like “Security” and “The Security Situation” are used many times in other parts of the survey. And you’re right that “Arrests” presumably means something like “Unjustified arrests.” And some categories are roughly assimilable into others (“Volatile political situation”, “No government”, etc.) If you wanted to probe deeper into this you’d have to design some other kinds of questions.

Like I say, this comes with the territory when you ask the respondents to provide the terms. Still, these questions are valuable because you can see how much spontaneous consensus there is about what’s bothering people. An indication of how far away things are from normal is that almost nobody says that unemployment makes them feel insecure, for instance.

16

soru 12.12.05 at 10:08 am

Certainly the question of whether the war was in some sense justified, whether those involved had the right to make the decisions they did, is going to be one for the historians and philosophers.

I think the most relevant message for most of those reading this site is that a belief in the essential accuracy of this poll is incompatible with a belief that current US strategy is incapable of achieving it’s stated goals.

In short: either the poll is a lie, or the war is not unwinnable.

Providing, at least, the US sticks to the primary goal of enabling the creation of a democracy it can trade with, and does not overcommit on secondary matters such as basing rights, oil and arms contracts, etc.

soru

17

Bro. Bartleby 12.12.05 at 10:13 am

I have just returned from a late night tour of downtown Philadelphia and it is my initial impression that the Revolutionary War was wrong, I found corruption in the police department, I arrived at three crime scenes Saturday night, either deaths or wounds by gunshot. In Germantown it was a mess, same with South side, interviews with various folks produced stories of lost hope, societal failures from bottom to top. I’m told it is like this in other major cities, that the violent deaths come to something like 15,000 a year, far outpacing the Vietnam War death rate. Well, I’m off the Los Angeles to spend a night in Central and Southcentral. I’m told to prepare myself, for it won’t be pretty.
Bro. Bartleby

18

roger 12.12.05 at 10:19 am

I wonder if optimism isn’t region wide right now. As David Ignatius recently pointed out, the boom spurred by the rise of the price of oil is hitting the Gulf region like it did in the seventies, except that this time, the money is not flowing back towards America and Europe, in the form of investment. Iraqis must know that — if they can get the Americans out and negotiate some end to the civil war themselves — they have every prospect of good times.

One thing about the poll that should make anybody suspicious about the respondents is contained in the numbers about who you trust to be a leader. Allawi is quite high — much higher than his numbers in the last election — and Sadr is quite low. This, to me, indicates that the poll skews away from the poor and disaffected — Sadr’s constituency — and towards the middle class and the Sunni — Allawi’s constituency. I would imagine that it is much harder to poll in Sadr city than it is in a middle class Baghdad neighborhood. Those numbers are definitely a red light.

19

Brendan 12.12.05 at 10:27 am

Ah Soru! So glad you could join us.

There is one thing I have been meaning to ask you.

There is a democratically elected leader who has been fighting a war against Islamists and Jihadists recently. He invaded a country that was in the hands of these Islamists and terrorists. Since then he has helped to create a democratic referendum (endorsed with a large majority via referendum) and there have now been elections there, agains proving that this leader’s motives must be, as he repeatedly states, to bring democracy and freedom to this state and defeat the terrorists and Jihadists who oppose democracy.

I speak of course of Vladimir Putin in Chechnya.

I hope you will be horrified, as I am, by the tone of this post by the BBC which uses false allegations, derogatory language and ad hominen attacks to suggest that Putin’s rhetoric on democracy is less than the whole truth.

They claim that the democratic victors in the recent elections were ‘Pro-Putin’. They argue that the legitimacy of the elections were ‘not legitimate’. They even argue that the elections on the constitution were flawed!

Communists and islamo-fascists all. As you yourself must be aware, it is in Putin’s interests that Russia ‘sticks to the primary goal of enabling the creation of a democracy it can trade with’.

Anyone who argues differently is ‘on the other side’, surely?

20

soru 12.12.05 at 10:33 am

I speak of course of Vladimir Putin in Chechnya.

Is it generally accepted as a principle of argument that you can change the countries, individuals, policies, populations and facts involved and expect everything to be the same?

soru

21

dsquared 12.12.05 at 10:40 am

Sadr is quite low

Roger; my understanding is that Sadr tries to keep himself at arms’ length from politics since at least in principle he is meant to be a cleric. It is a bit annoying that the political party names in the poll don’t match up to the most commonly used ones in the Western media – I can’t believe nobody’s planning to vote SCIRI for example.

22

Brendan 12.12.05 at 10:42 am

My argument should have been self-evident: is there any coherent argument that could be applied to Bush’s war to show that he ‘must’ have been sincere about bringing democracy to Iraq that could also not have been applied to Putin in Chechnya? If so, why aren’t the pro-invasion left praising Putin as well as Bush?

The fact is that the common sense and sensible cynicism that people develop as they grow older is switched off by the pro-invasion left when they look, starry eyed, at Bush and Blair. When they look at other people who perform almost exactly the same acts in different contexts they see clearly what is going on. No one argues that Putin is a genuine democrat, or that his intentions towards Chechnya are good, because most people live in the real world.

Ipso fact, few people believe Bush and Blair’s rhetoric about democracy in Iraq, or that it is in their interests to bring democracy to Iraq (it clearly isn’t) because they have a grain of common sense and believe the evidence of their eyes and ears, not what overpaid columnists for fashion magazines tell lthem to believe.

Likewise if it had been the United States (and Britain) that had invaded Chechnya, we WOULD now have to listen to Geras and the rest drone on about how anyone who opposes Putin was ‘on the other side’ and Hitchens pompously declaiming that anyone who questions the validity of the recent elections is ‘on the other side’.

The pro-war left will only ever support ‘interventions’ carried out by the United States (with Britain sometimes in tow).

23

abb1 12.12.05 at 10:53 am

One doesn’t need to question validity of the recent elections in order to argue that the US objective in Iraq has absolutely nothing to do with this bizarre construct from Soru: ‘enabling the creation of a democracy it can trade with‘.

24

Jim_L 12.12.05 at 10:55 am

I’d decided to self-impose a moratorium on commenting on the ramblings of the “pro-war left”, but I’m roused…

Kindly let us know when your “moratorium” is reinstated. And what others may currently be in effect.

25

roger 12.12.05 at 10:59 am

Sadr isn’t keeping that much of a low political profile. In fact, he just signed a pact with Chalabi and Jafari in which those two pledged to keep Iraq anti-Israel (Sadr’s idea is that this can be symbolized by re-doing the weekend, bizarrely enough), to respect the insurgent right to take shots at occupiers, and to call for a timetable of withdrawal.

The high Allawi numbers are consistent with the greater number of Iraqis American journalists talk to who praise Allawi, a phenomenon that made the results of the last election surprising to the American newspaper reader. It is prudent, actually, not to survey your average Sadr supporter about his likes and dislikes, since to do that one must penetrate quarters where getting out might be a bit iffy.

26

roger 12.12.05 at 11:03 am

oops, sorry, I meant Ahmad Jalabi, not Jafari.

27

Brendan 12.12.05 at 11:04 am

To get back on topic, this is stolen from the MediaLens comment board but I thought it was appropriate: hope the author doesn’t mind.

‘Remember when the Lancet Report was published it was being heavily attacked and its methods scrutinised? One of the criticisms was that the sample size was to small. The Lancet report used 30 clusters of 30 households, amounting to some 4300 people. ORI (i.e. the organisation that carried out the current opinion poll) say they use between 1,500-2,500 respondents across Iraq, a significantly smaller sample size. Why then are the (usual) ‘authorities’ not criticising the small sample size?’

Incidentally, the ‘left wing’ Guardian are reporting the poll with the headline: Poll shows Iraqi optimism. Their story on the poll here gives the government spin on the poll (i.e. optimism etc.) and quotes without comment Jack Straw’s spin on the poll. The salient points raised in Christ Bertram’s original post are not mentioned.

Still it’s great we have a free press in this country, not like Iraq where the occupying powers apparently write the news stories, eh?

28

Stephen 12.12.05 at 11:15 am

Remember when the Lancet Report was published it was being heavily attacked and its methods scrutinised?

That’s because there is no extrapolation from rare events. This survey wouldn’t have been useful for that. It is useful where there are 4 responses (and an NA) that all respondents answer.

29

abb1 12.12.05 at 11:17 am

According to the BBC:

Its researchers, who were Iraqis, spread out in minibuses across the country and carried out 1,711 face-to-face interviews.

This figure was lower than in previous surveys because of security considerations but even so, according to ORI director Dr Christoph Sahm, it produced a result in which “Iraqi households were talking to us”.

Since the international media cannot get out and about in Iraq, the findings are of particular interest, though for the same reason the results cannot easily be tested against experience.

So, Roger, are you saying the survey is phony, that they probably avoided going to tough neighborhoods; is that what you’re saying?

30

abb1 12.12.05 at 11:20 am

That’s because there is no extrapolation from rare events.

Of course there is: they’re saying ‘80% of the Iraqis are optimistic’, not ‘957 of the Iraqis are optimistic’.

31

soru 12.12.05 at 11:22 am

When they look at other people who perform almost exactly the same acts in different contexts they see clearly what is going on.

Algeria could be regarded as ‘the same as’ Chechnya (‘exactly’ might be a stretch): France always had the policy of it being a physical part of France, with at best some limited self-rule.

Palestine is only somewhat more difficult to see as an analogy. In both cases, there were fundamental conflicts of interest between the occupying power and the majority of the occupied.

When Bush drafts an ‘Iraq annexation act’, when then are 1 million english-speaking ‘black feet’ living in Iraq, who get to vote in US elections, and whose great-grandfathers owned the land they farm, or when Iraq shares a land border with the continental US, then I’ll concede your argument has some force.

Until then, the US could no more follow the policy and actions of the French, Israelis or Russians, to maintain an occupation against the expressed wishes (and violent actions) of the clear majority of those occupied, than Bush could flap his wings like a hummingbird and rise up into the air.

It is not a matter of him being morally better or worse than Putin, more or less trustworthy, it is a simple matter of lacking the capability, the power, to behave in that way.

If he does decide to throw away the potential for victory in Iraq in favour of of a few billions worth of oil concessions, or whatever, then that will be the act of someone as deeply delusional as the apocryphal teenager who jumped off a roof thinking he was Spiderman.

With much the same results.

soru

32

dsquared 12.12.05 at 11:25 am

So, Roger, are you saying the survey is phony, that they probably avoided going to tough neighborhoods; is that what you’re saying?

Roger may have his own view, but my understanding is that the security problems were tough but not unsurmountable; they did get enough geographical coverage to create a sample that a reputable research organisation considers to be adequate.

I think Roger might have been making the point though that respondents might have been a little bit reluctant to express support for Sadr to a man with a clipboard. We know that support for the Tory Party in Lytham St Annes is understated for this reason, so it’s hardly a gross slur on the integrity of ORI to surmise that support for a known militia leader in a country under occupation may also be subject to nonrandom error.

33

roger 12.12.05 at 11:26 am

A skewed survey isn’t phoney, it is simply incomplete. I do think you can look at certain figures and think, well, if they could actually poll freely in, say, Basra, the numbers would be different. What is phoney is to talk about the numbers in terms of region — there are safer sectors in any region, and one could confine oneself to upper class and Occupation friendly households in Basra and claim to have a proportion from that region. More interesting would be things like income percentile — surely that would be easy information to obtain and publish? And it would also be easy to say, sorry folks, this poll could not penetrate x y and z areas in a scientific way.
So — the Oxford group should not publish its data without big cautions.

34

abb1 12.12.05 at 11:27 am

Ah, Stephen, rare events, I see what you mean. Sorry.

35

Brendan 12.12.05 at 11:33 am

‘Until then, the US could no more follow the policy and actions of the French, Israelis or Russians, to maintain an occupation against the expressed wishes (and violent actions) of the clear majority of those occupied, than Bush could flap his wings like a hummingbird and rise up into the air.’

Umm…you are capable of reading yeah? And you have read the results of the latest opinion polls from Iraq, yeah?

The US and UK are maintaining an occupation in the face of the expressed wishes of a clear majority of the Iraqi people.

(incidentally, what’s the fact of the US not sharing a ‘land border’ with Iraq got to do with anything? Did India share a ‘land border’ with the UK?).

36

Mona 12.12.05 at 11:40 am

Mr. Bertam conlcudes his post with this:

Today 50.3 per cent of Iraqis polled answered that the invasion was somewhat or absolutely wrong.

while his headline declares:

Survey shows majority of Iraqis disapprove of invasion

Is it not the case that, given margins for error, this poll in fact reflects an evenly divided population of Iraqis on the question of whether the invasion was right?

37

Ray 12.12.05 at 11:48 am

“Its researchers, who were Iraqis, spread out in minibuses across the country and carried out 1,711 face-to-face interviews.
This figure was lower than in previous surveys because of security considerations… “

That’s kind of revealing in itself, isn’t it?

38

roger 12.12.05 at 11:49 am

By the way, another indicator of skewing in the poll is pretty blatant. The poll numbers speak strongly against the sort of federalism that was just mandated, in the constitution, by 70 percent of the population. Either the vote was crooked, or the poll is skewed. I don’t think pro-war people want the idea that the vote was crooked spread around. But who knows — those zombie pop contradictions like 60s housewives popped valium.

39

Brendan 12.12.05 at 11:54 am

‘Is it not the case that, given margins for error, this poll in fact reflects an evenly divided population of Iraqis on the question of whether the invasion was right?’

Or an even better way of puting it: a clear minority were prepared to state that that the invasion was a good thing. The actual numbers (in terms of how ‘skewed’ the results were) are also interesting. Look at how many said the war was ‘absolutely right’ as opposed to ‘absolutely wrong’.

- From today’s perspective and all things considered, was it absolutely right, somewhat right, somewhat wrong or absolutely wrong that US-led coalition forces invaded Iraq in Spring 2003?

Absolutely right 319 18.6%
Somewhat right 472 27.6%
Somewhat wrong 294 17.2%
Absolutely wrong 566 33.1%
Difficult to say 61 3.5%
Total 1711

Total who said that the invasion was ‘absolute right or somewhat right': 46.2%.

One could also argue that the 3.5% should also go onto the ‘anti’ number: it’s hardly a ringing endorsement of the invasion so many years after ‘liberation’.

40

Stephen 12.12.05 at 11:55 am

‘Umm…you are capable of reading yeah? And you have read the results of the latest opinion polls from Iraq, yeah?’

I can and I read on pg 22.

leave now 25.5%
remain until security restored 30.9%
remain until govt. elected in December 19.4%
remain until Iraqi security forces can operate independently 15.6%
remain longer but leave eventually 3.2%
never leave 1.3%
difficult to say 4.1%

So yes I can read– and quote too neither selectively or mendaciously.

41

soru 12.12.05 at 12:10 pm

Umm…you are capable of reading yeah? And you have read the results of the latest opinion polls from Iraq, yeah?

Like fish in a barrel.

Q33 – How long do you think U.S. and other Coalition Forces should remain in Iraq?

They should leave now 25.5%
They should remain until security is restored 30.9%
They should remain until the Iraqi government elected in December is in place 19.4%
They should remain until the Iraqi security forces can operate independently 15.6%
They should remain longer but leave eventually 3.2%
They should never leave 23 1.3%
Difficult to say 4.1%

‘never’ + ‘eventually’ + 3 variations of ‘until job done’ = 70.4%

Imagine the corresponding poll in Chechnya, Palestine or 1960s Algeria – you really think it would have a comparable result?

soru

42

Brendan 12.12.05 at 12:12 pm

About that question: the fact is that the December elections are nearly upon us, and so when these elections are held and the government is in power then option 1 and 3 will, as it were, become amalgamated. In other words, 44.9% of the respondents want the troops out (essentially) sometime very soon after December 16th.

The other aspect that can hardly be stressed too much is that there will be a huge amount of ‘skew’ in this result. In Sunni regions it is safe to say that the ‘coalition must leave now’ option would be much higher. I would imagine that it would also be extremely high in most Shia regions.

Some more questions that the BBC somehow failed to highlight:

Since the war, how do you feel about the way in which the United States and other Coalition Forces have carried out their responsibilities in Iraq?
Base = All respondents who heard of the Coalition Forces (Q19)
Have they done
A very good job 164 19.4%
Quite a good job 454 26.6
Quite a bad job 322 18.8
A very bad job 679 39.8
I do not know enough about it 47 2.7
I prefer not to answer this question 41 2.4
Total 1707 100.0

Q32 – Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the presence of Coalition Forces in Iraq?

Strongly support 218 12.8%
Somewhat support 330 19.4%
Somewhat oppose 355 20.8%
Strongly oppose 746 43.7%
Difficult to say 58 3.4%
Total 1707 100.0

Despite what you say, the Iraqis show, by a clear majority, that they did not approve of the war, and they despise the occupiers.

43

Mona 12.12.05 at 12:13 pm

Brendan writes: it’s hardly a ringing endorsement of the invasion so many years after ‘liberation’.

Why the scare quotes? Wasn’t it a liberation from a tyrant and his murderous spawn waiting to assume the throne?

Even after the Soviet Union fell, one could find a significant number of Russians who prefered the familiar to the vacuum and chaotic aftermath. Some were KGB and other diehard Communists who lost privilege and status, others simply did not like change, especially the elderly. It is human nature to prefer a status quo.

It seems positive to me that a near majority of Iraqis think — even with all the terorrist and insurgent bombings and assassinations — that the invasion was right. If the violence ends any time soon, those numbers will rise.

44

Barry 12.12.05 at 12:41 pm

Mona: “… If the violence ends any time soon, those numbers will rise.”

And if I win the lotto, I’ll be rich.

45

abb1 12.12.05 at 12:45 pm

I have to admit that I am seriously humbled by the ‘leave now’ number being so much lower than I expected.

46

soru 12.12.05 at 12:48 pm

Despite what you say, the Iraqis show, by a clear majority, that they did not approve of the war, and they despise the occupiers.

In Brendan’s world, 0.3% is a clear majority, and ‘Somewhat oppose’ is despise.

Meanwhile in the real world, things are more nuanced:
today’s Guardian
Even some Sunni politicians fear a quick withdrawal, however much their community desires it, because they fear being left vulnerable – not just about Sunni-dominated insurgents but to the Shiite-led government security services and militias such as the Badr Brigade and the Mahdi Army that have been accused of abusing Sunnis.
“After the elections, we will press for the withdrawal of the occupation forces, but this should be done through a good plan that does not pave the way for a chaotic situation and a security vacuum,” Adnan al-Dulaimi, a leading Sunni politician, told The Associated Press.

soru

47

abb1 12.12.05 at 1:05 pm

Here, from the Telegraph, less than 2 months ago:

• 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;

• 82 per cent are “strongly opposed” to the presence of coalition troops;

• 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.

…and only 25% want them to ‘leave now’?

Sorry, something doesn’t fit here.

48

BigMacAttack 12.12.05 at 1:07 pm

I am actually suprised by the number of people who openly admit to supporting coalition forces and or think they have done a good job. Slightly less than 50% and about 35%.

(Doesn’t mean everything will turn out ok or that the war was right.)

25% say leave now and 54% say they oppose the occupation forces.

Sounds like a scapple face bit.

Question – What does the Iraqi resistance do after blowing up an oil pipeline?

Answer – Claim responsibility and lodge a complaint about the US forces inablity to maintain law and order.

These Iraqis seem very people like, only more so.

49

soru 12.12.05 at 1:20 pm

Sorry, something doesn’t fit here.

The Telegraph poll has never had the questions or data published, so the only thing available is the ‘spun’ version.

Without the raw data, as brendan has shown, you could produce a similarly pessimistic narrative from the BBC poll, without at any point actually lying (at least by journalistic standards).

soru

50

luci 12.12.05 at 1:40 pm

the Iraqi hoi polloi can get it straight that there’s a difference between believing “the Iraq invasion ended up having some favourable consequences” [...] and “the Iraq invasion was on balance justified” but a Professor of Political Philosophy seemingly can’t

Yeah, though I’d say, “seemingly”. IMO, a smart guy (Norm) who can’t make such distinctions is just plain dishonest.

Which is annoying, because political questions are complicated enough without having to wade through all the propaganda.

51

John Lederer 12.12.05 at 1:49 pm

I apologize for giving this from memory without a cite, but I recall some earlier survey which asked in a little more detail what Iraqis felt was “bad” about the invasion.

The principal answer was the humiliation of Iraq by the rapid defeat.

When asked what was “good”, the principal answer was the overthrow of Saddam.

Interestingly, from the Iraqi point of view, WMD’s were not a major factor.

I think it must be at least a year, and possibly longer ago that i saw these results.

52

abb1 12.12.05 at 1:53 pm

Without the raw data, as brendan has shown, you could produce a similarly pessimistic narrative from the BBC poll, without at any point actually lying (at least by journalistic standards).

Fair enough, although the article seems to imply that the guy in charge of security for the Basra region (Lt Col Nick Henderson) resigned because of this poll. How ‘spun’ could it be?

53

Grand Moff Texan 12.12.05 at 2:22 pm

Today 50.3 per cent of Iraqis polled answered that the invasion was somewhat or absolutely wrong. That’s an increase from 39.1 per cent in last year’s survey .

You’re making one of your little points again, aren’t you?
.

54

Gary Farber 12.12.05 at 2:55 pm

“I’m roused by a post on Normblog entitled At variance with certain depictions in which Geras claims”

I take it no one cares that this link is broken (rather obviously so, beyond not working: there’s an “in” at the end).

Presumably everyone bothered to read what Geras said, before commenting above, but didn’t find worth mentioning the fact that they couldn’t use the broken link to get to the post.

55

Brendan 12.12.05 at 3:03 pm

Well I thought I had heard every euphemism but Mona’s ‘a near majority’ for what most normal people would term ‘a minority’ takes the biscuit.

Perhaps I didn’t draw enough attention to this result.

Q32 – Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the presence of Coalition Forces in Iraq?

Strongly support 218 12.8%

Somewhat support 330 19.4%

Somewhat oppose 355 20.8%

Strongly oppose 746 43.7%

Difficult to say 58 3.4%

Total 1707 100.0

In other words, over 64% of Iraqis oppose or strongly oppose the presence of UK/US troops. (Or, as Mona would put it, a ‘near majority’ think otherwise).

And make no mistake, if one moved into Shia areas (let alone Sunni areas) this number would go higher still. Yeah, sure, if it pleases you, tell yourself that only the largest minority of the recipients polled want the troops out after December 16th. If it makes you happy, remember that (as I posted in a previous post) Bush seems to have primed his aides to state (off the record) that the Iraqis are going to have to prepare to have coalition troops in their country for decades, a position that is held by a grand total of 1.3% of Iraqis polled.

But make no mistake: they hate us.

Incidentally, Soru’s quote should be italicised as follows: ‘Even some Sunni politicians fear a quick withdrawal, however much their community desires it.’
I never denied that the ‘political class’ in Iraq want the Americans to stay (at least for now) in the same way that the ‘political class’ in the US and the UK also want the Americans (and British) to stay. What I denied is that this represents the feelings and thoughts of real ordinary people.

56

Dan Simon 12.12.05 at 3:20 pm

The hard part isn’t reconciling a majority-generally-satisfied-and-optimistic poll result with a (bare) majority thinking the American military intervention was wrong. There are a number of easy ways to explain that juxtaposition. The tricky part is explaining a substantial increase in both the number of people satisfied with circumstances and optimistic about the future, and the number convinced that the American intervention was wrong. Why would an improvement in conditions and outlook make the intervention look worse in retrospect?

My best guess is that poll responders tend to treat the question, “was the accession to power of X right or wrong?”, as a generic job approval/support rating for X. (For example, I would expect the question, “was electing the current US president a good or a bad thing?” to elicit responses in US polls that track exceedingly well the sitting president’s current job approval ratings.) Viewed in this light, the trend in Iraqi poll results makes perfect sense: as conditions improve and the outlook brightens, support for continued American involvement in the governing of Iraq can be expected to decline.

However, if my interpretation is correct, then this recent poll result does not imply that the American intervention in Iraq actually was a bad thing, any more than the low approval ratings that even the most popular, successful US presidents garner in their later, lame-duck years mean that those presidents should never have been elected in the first place.

57

Chris Bertram 12.12.05 at 3:31 pm

Link fixed. Thanks GF.

58

Stephen 12.12.05 at 3:53 pm

‘In other words, over 64% of Iraqis oppose or strongly oppose the presence of UK/US troops’,
Brendan:
Again you misleadingly select parts of the survey. This is followed by:

leave now 25.5%
remain until security restored 30.9%
remain until govt. elected in December 19.4%
remain until Iraqi security forces can operate independently 15.6%
remain longer but leave eventually 3.2%
never leave 1.3%
difficult to say 4.1%

‘But make no mistake: they hate us’

No clearly you hate the occupation and wish to project your views onto the Iraqis. Clearly a lot think coalition troops have done ‘a very bad job’ but most do not ‘hate’ them enough to want them to leave immediately.

How irritating it is when those ungrateful Iraqis let us all down with their uncomfortable opinions. Never mind in a few days Im sure you will have deliberately forgotten this survey.

59

Grand Moff Texan 12.12.05 at 4:11 pm

Again you misleadingly select parts of the survey. This is followed by:…

False analogy, stephen. They can oppose their presence and yet understand what the forces are doing there right now. If you can’t understand that, that’s not their problem. Nor is it mine.

But make no mistake: they hate us’

No clearly you hate the occupation and wish…

Attacking the bias fallacy, stephen. Did you have anything meaningful to say? When were you planning on saying it?

In the meantime, the slang in Iraq for the American forces is “the Jews.” Has been for over two years now. If you now have one or two data points behind which to hide your support of failed and criminal policy, don’t expect people who think for a living to be impressed.
.

60

perianwyr 12.12.05 at 4:12 pm

Haha. 99% of those polled think that women should be able to vote, whereas 15% of them believe that women shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car. I know a lot of people here in the US that would agree with such an idea, though.

61

Dan Collins 12.12.05 at 4:20 pm

It’s funny when you get a guy who paints someone else as smug and arrogant inveighs twice in the same post that we should “make no mistake” that his interpretation of the data (such as they are) is the only viable one. So, most Iraqis would like coalition forces out of their country? Gee, that must mean that they hate us.

Why, then, under Q4, do only 1.1% respond that the biggest problem facing them today is “The Occupation”?

Under Q5, 48.2% of respondents feel it was completely or somewhat right that coalition forces invaded their country in ’03, whereas 39.1% feel it was somewhat or absolutely wrong. 48.2% doesn’t make a majority, but it’s substantially closer than 39.1.

By a small margin, respondents say that it is more accurate to state that by so invading, the coalition forces liberated the country rather than humiliated it. It’s an interesting question how this wording was determined, to make it either/or.

53.6 percent of respondents assess the security situation as having improved significantly or somewhat over last year, as against 26.4 who feel that it has gotten somewhat or substantially worse.

Even the devil can cite scripture, I know, but there are lots of interesting bits in here that appear to undermine the idea that Iraqis hate us for having liberated them from Saddam and his Ba’athist thugs.

62

Brendan 12.12.05 at 4:20 pm

Isn’t it funny how people who don’t speak Arabic, have never visited Iraq, nor would, and don’t actually know any Iraqis are pretty excited by the idea of what Iraqis actually think? Incidentally, you are right, the Iraqis are ‘ungrateful’. Do you think they should be grateful? How grateful? On their knees grateful, or serving you grapes as you lounge about on your sedan drinking wine grateful? Natives aren’t grateful for the wonderful things we give them are they? They need a good whipping, all of them.

To repeat my point: for better or for worse, my argument is that that there is no intention for a Coalition withdrawal at any point. Bush (in a thing I posted earlier) (apparently) told aides to say this, and said the model for Iraq should be South Korea etc. where the Americans NEVER left. Bush and Blair have been careful in their phrasing. They state: ‘no withdrawal till the jobs done’, but never actually state that there will be a withdrawal after that (in the dictionary definition of withdrawal meaning…er…withdrawal. Soru objects to this definition and with reason).

So another way of putting the poll result afterwards is that 1.3% of Iraqis agree with Bush that the Coalition should, essentially, never leave.

In any case, as I stated again (tiresomely I know, but we members of the reality based community do have this tedious predilection for quoting facts) the ‘skew’ of these results is very high, and should give us all pause. The results of these polls are highly skewed by the presence of the Kurds….(note: these are the ‘good’ Kurds of Iraq I am talking about, not the ‘bad’ Kurds of Turkey). Sunnis and Shias combined would of course have much higher percentages in favour of withdrawal, undeniably sizeable majorities. Moreover, as the poll indicated the numbers of Iraqis demanding immediate withdrawal will undeniably leap after December 16th. As for Soru’s point that this occupation hasn’t been as unpopular as his own imaginings as to how unpopular other occupations have been: I will pass over that in silence.

‘No clearly you hate the occupation and wish to project your views onto the Iraqis. ‘

If by ‘you’ you mean the British people then, as opinion poll data shows, you are quite right. We do hate the occupation. But the great thing about democracy is that even people in tiny unrepresentative minorities like yourself get a voice. Isn’t it great?

63

Bob B 12.12.05 at 4:37 pm

I have adreadful fear this could be another anti-American conspiracy:

“The Earth’s north magnetic pole is drifting away from North America so fast that it could end up in Siberia within 50 years, scientists have said.

“The shift could mean that Alaska will lose its northern lights, or auroras, which might then be more visible in areas of Siberia and Europe.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4520982.stm

Who to bomb?

64

Grand Moff Texan 12.12.05 at 4:51 pm

Who to bomb?

Posted by Bob B

Whom to bomb, bob.

Whom to bomb.

Judging by the marksmanship of the present administration, if we lose the northern lights to Siberia then Azerbaijan’s gonna get it.
.

65

soru 12.12.05 at 4:58 pm

The results of these polls are highly skewed by the presence of the Kurds….

No comment required.

soru

66

Gary Farber 12.12.05 at 5:12 pm

General comment: for some reason, lots of people who regard themselves as either “pro” or “anti” war seem to feel that they’re making an interesting rhetorical point by waxing sarcastic about all the conditionss that people on the other side meet, or fail to meet, which, strangely, also happen to be conditions that most people on the other other side meet, or fail to meet, often including the speaker.

I.E. person X is said to hold Disapproved Opinion A even though they have “never been to Iraq,” or “don’t speak Arabic,” or “aren’t putting their own life at risk to back up their opinion,” or quite a few other conditions which, I’m quite willing to bet, more than a few of those who seem to quite clearly feel that these are disqualifying conditions, they themselves do not meet.

It seems a peculiar mindset to me, but perhaps it’s just me.

The main thing that always strikes me in these discussions, as in most political discussions, is how long a little lessening of moral righteousness on one’s own part might go towards contributing to an actual exchange of views, and some actual gain in knowledge or perspective. Of course, I’m scarcely innocent of lack of moral righteousness hither and yon, myself. But that does only tend to re-emphasize to me the view that turning it down might be a useful, if difficult, exercise for perhaps all of us.

A person has to have dreams, you know.

67

BigMacAttack 12.12.05 at 5:25 pm

Brendan,

You are pretty much wrong.

Just a quick glance demonstrates unsuprisingly that the Iraqi people are deeply divided and conflicted amongst themselves about the US occupation.

The overlap between Iraqis who both oppose the occupation and do not wish US troops to immediately withdraw is just one quick example.

You and Grand Moff Texan can attempt to spin that any which way but

I oppose your presence, could you please stay a bit, is a conflict.

Your extrapolation -

‘Moreover, as the poll indicated the numbers of Iraqis demanding immediate withdrawal will undeniably leap after December 16th.’

is a bit more uncertain than you seem to think. People are a funny lot. They might say they want US forces to leave after Dec 16. But you really have to ask them again after Dec 16. People often don’t feel bound, to honor the future intentions, they have stated to pollsters.

And even if all 19.4% did suddenly want US troops to withdraw 51%, or as you might say a clear majority, would still not favor immediate withdrawal.

And that is really the important question, not the % that agree, with this or that nebulous characterization, regarding how they feel about US troops.

Also, you know if you think about it, it isn’t just the Kurds who are skewing the results, it is all Iraqis who support the occupation, if you removed them from the poll, you probably would get an even more accurate idea of how Iraqis feel about the occupation.

68

Brendan 12.12.05 at 5:39 pm

‘They might say they want US forces to leave after Dec 16. But you really have to ask them again after Dec 16.’

Fair enough. I can wait. It’s only 4 days.

69

abb1 12.12.05 at 5:59 pm

OK, so what do we have here?

From the ‘secret poll': 82 per cent are “strongly opposed” to the presence of coalition troops.

From this poll: 75% don’t want want them to leave now.

I say about 60% of the people there feel they could hold their noses and use the foreign troops for their advantage somehow. Fine, no big surprise there: the ‘divide and rule’ approach has been successfully applied for a few millennia, why not in this case?

70

Karl Marx 12.12.05 at 6:24 pm

, dd y ct my lst cmmnt bcs y cldn’t nswr t? tn, bt. Mst b tn.

71

Karl Marx 12.12.05 at 6:35 pm

Chris,
I’ll try one more time. You say you are a socialist. So, too, do these various academics you have rounded-up onto your site. Well, that’s terribly nice, but where are your comrades? Who in Iraq are you supporting and who is supporting you? And if you can’t answer that question, what is your socialism?
Please try harder, I never promised you it was going to be easy,
Karl xxx.

72

nick s 12.12.05 at 7:07 pm

What’s the Arabic for “oh, mustn’t grumble”?

73

Karl Marx 12.12.05 at 7:17 pm

n fnl pnt, Chrs, y r pblc schl by rn’t y? Tht’s why y cn’t ctlly nm sclst grp n rq wh spprts y nd yr Try By mts. ‘ll rtrct tht f ‘m wrng.
f ‘m nt, thn y r jst slly ntqrn? Ys? Fr hw cn y hv sclsm wtht cmrd?

74

John Quiggin 12.12.05 at 11:23 pm

I’ve seen karl marx’s argument before and it mystifies me. As far as I know, no self-described socialist party in Iraq has the support of more than a tiny percentage of the Iraqi population (unless you count ex-Baathists). The Iraqi Communist Party did very poorly in the January election and, as far as I know, it was the only nominally socialist group to field candidates.

Yet km and others seem to think that support from such a party is a necessary condition for a policy on war with Iraq to be advocated by socialists. Do they actually believe this ? If the sole socialist party in country X calls for an invasion to overthrow that country’s government, would they automatically support such a call?

And, since the Iraqi Communist Party initially opposed the invasion (according to Wikipedia) which party were they relying on when they supported it?

75

Pete 12.13.05 at 1:51 am

More Iraqis support the war than Brits!

76

Geoff R 12.13.05 at 2:31 am

Trying to define public opinion is like bottling a cloud or herding cats. A fair view would be that Iraq public opinion is a long way from how it was visualised by msot supporters of the war (at least in public) but it is a very very long way from how it was visualised by most opponents of the war. Maybe Iraqis are over nationalism.

77

Brendan 12.13.05 at 3:49 am

Abb1

The question of trying to even debate with these people is absurd. I remember the foaming at the mouth that Harry’s Place did when we had an almost exactly analogous situation in Lebanon. Again, Syria had invaded for reasons of ‘human rights’ (a ‘humanitarian intervention’) and then demonstrated that they intended to hang around for decades. The Syrians were, in every sense, a more competent and less corrupt occupier than the US/UK. But were the ‘pro-war left’ bothered by these factors? Of course not. Did they pore over opinion poll data, trying to work out whether a minority of majority wanted the Syrians to leave (despite the fact that an extremely large minority (what Mona would call a near majority) DID in fact want the Syrians to stay. Moreover, these people actually wanted the Syrians to stay permanently, not the temporary presence that (some) Iraqis want now). When it was pointed out that there was a large ‘spread’ of results with bit geographic divisions in terms of who wanted the Syrians to stay and who didn’t, did they stroke their chins and say that was a good point? Nope. None of those things. They wanted the Syrians out, and frankly if some Lebanese didn’t like it: tough.

Again, in Chechnya (an even more exact situation) Putin invaded for reasons of ‘human rights’ (yet another humanitarian intervention) restored democracy, had a constitution written which was then ratified by a referendum, and then had elections held. Did the pro-war left applaud this warrior for democracy, and enemy of Islamo-fascism? Of course not. Did they pore over opinion poll data in an attempt to work out what the Chechnyans thought about the Russian presence? They do not. They ‘just know’ that the majority of Chechnyans want the Russians out.

But when it comes to the US/UK then it’s suddenly all different. We all sit here and have these debates, when we all know that if every opinion poll of the last ten years stated that 100% of the Iraqis wanted the US/UK out tomorrow, the ‘pro-invasion left’ would still be arguing that the sample size was limited, or that these results were meaingless unless they were translated into political results or something.

The neo-cold warriors despise and fear the Iraqi people, and with reason.

78

Brendan 12.13.05 at 4:09 am

In case anyone doubts what I said above, here’s another opinion poll (which must be considered to have more validity than the Iraqi one, given that it was not carried out in a country in the middle of a civil war) in which Americans this time, 58% of them, state that they want Bush to set a timetable for withdrawal. And we already know that most British people think the same (after December 16th).

Watch the liberal imperialists argue that the methodology was flawed/the sample size was too small/it’s not what the Americans think it’s what the Iraqis think etc. etc. etc. And then ask yourself: would they be raising these points if the poll stated that a majority of Americans did NOT want Bush to set a date for withdrawal?

79

dsquared 12.13.05 at 5:40 am

Nick Cohen: This argument was pretty silly when you made it under your own name, and adopting the pseudonym “Karl Marx” doesn’t really improve it. If Chris were to answer you (unlikely; he doesn’t share my taste in pointless flamewars) he would be able to point to at least two Iraqi trade unions (the General Union of Oil Employees and the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq) and at least one Iraqi socialist party (the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq, which is admittedly mainly an expat organisation, but so is the WCP of Iran, who you have given favourable notices to quite recently) who opposed the war and who have signed up to “troops out” motions in recent months.

You are quite wrong in making the assumption that because the ICP was in the Allawi government, all Iraqi communists were, or that because IFTU wants the troops to remain, all Iraqi trade unionists do.

If “Karl Marx” isn’t Nick Cohen of the Observer, I obviously apologise to Mr Cohen, although my apology would be somewhat tempered by the fact that he has after all made the exact same argument in the exact same style on a CT thread in the last two months.

80

abb1 12.13.05 at 5:43 am

Brendan, I find the concept of a national government (US, UK, Syria or any other national government) sending troops and money abroad for the purpose of creating democracy there – I find this concept absurd. So, whatever arguments the pro-war-left people present – these are arguments defending an absurd position, much like the arguments defending the flat earth theory.

81

soru 12.13.05 at 6:18 am

We all sit here and have these debates, when we all know that if every opinion poll of the last ten years stated that 100% of the Iraqis wanted the US/UK out tomorrow, the ‘pro-invasion left’ would still be arguing that the sample size was limited, or that these results were meaingless unless they were translated into political results or something.

Hypothetically, were that the case, I am sure there are some members of that group who would do that.

Hypothetically, if global warming were somehow proved scientifically incorrect, quite likely some environmentalists would attempt dishonestly to cast doubt on the findings, the better to ‘win’ the argument.

But in the world as it is, it is the other sides of those arguments who feel the need to resort to lies and distortions, the facts not being in their favour.

soru

82

Brendan 12.13.05 at 7:54 am

‘But in the world as it is, it is the other sides of those arguments who feel the need to resort to lies and distortions, the facts not being in their favour.’

Oh please share with us. What lies have been told by those who are on the side of the majority of the British people and the majority of the American people in wanting a timetable for withdrawal?

(Incidentally, let’s not forget how Harry’s Place reported large demonstrations against the presence of Syrian bases on Lebanese soil:

‘Beirut was the location for a huge demonstration Monday against the de facto Syrian occupation of Lebanon. It follows last week’s massive and angry funeral procession for Rafik Hariri, whose murder is widely blamed on the Syrians.

Perhaps not coincidentally Syria hinted it might start withdrawing some of its 14,000 troops from its neighboring country. Believe it when it happens.‘.

It should be stressed that my position vis a vis the Americans/British in Iraq is exactly the same as Harry’s Place vis a vis the Syrians and the Lebanese: i.e. I will believe that troops have withdrawn when they actually go.

My posiition vis a vis Iraq is also the same as Chirac’s and Bush’s when they called for:

‘US President George Bush and French President Jacques Chirac have this week repeatedly demanded a full Syrian army withdrawal from Lebanon.’ (emphasis added). How happy do you think Chirac and Bush would have been if Syria had left behind military bases, perhaps large military bases, whose relationship to the Lebanese military (in terms of command) was, to put it mildly, problematic?

And were the pro-war left swayed by the fact that sizeable amounts of Lebanese (perhaps a majority, who knows?) wanted the Syrians to stay? Of course not. There was no poring over opinion poll data there. There was no particular interest in what the Lebanese people ‘wanted’. The US wanted Syria out and that was the end of it.)

The fact is that the actions of France and Russia and Syria are viewed with the normal common sense scepticism that any sane person would. In other words, it is not always assumed that their actions are philanthropic, nuances are accepted, linguistic and ethnic splits in countries are accepted and so forth.

It is only for the US and the UK that we all have to suddenly assume that if Bush says something…well that makes it true. And if he says he is bringing democracy to Iraq…then that’s just the way it is.

This is made clear by Gene’s own latest missive:

‘Of course you can choose to believe everything Bush says about democracy and freedom is a lie intended to conceal his neo-imperialist designs. Or you can choose (as I do) to take him at his word….’

Again it can hardly be stated enough that it is literally inconceivable that if Chirac or Putin or Berlusconi or Assad were to state that they were genuine about spreading democracy they would be automatically disbelieved until they could provide some evidence to back this up. It’s only Bush and Blair who have a get out of jail free card.

83

a 12.13.05 at 7:56 am

brendan – I can remember that my reaction to Syria’s initial invasion of Lebanon was strongly approving. I think this was pretty much the standard view. It seemed that the intervention was the only way to stop the civil war.

It was only after 5 or 10 years that (in my eyes anyway) that the presence of Syrian troops became negative.

Time changes things. It is entirely consistent to approve of one set of circumstances if they endure only 2 years, vs. pretty much the same set if they endure ten times longer.

84

Brendan 12.13.05 at 8:40 am

‘Time changes things. It is entirely consistent to approve of one set of circumstances if they endure only 2 years, vs. pretty much the same set if they endure ten times longer.’

Don’t get me wrong. I was fully in favour of a Syrian withdrawal. I am also fully in favour of a full Russian withdrawal in Chechnya. I am also fully in favour of an American/UK withdrawal from Iraq.

My reasons for all three are the same, because the three situations are essentially the same.

Incidentally in my post above ‘automatically disbelieved’ should of course be ‘automatically believed.’, and ignore the rest of that sentence. Mea culpa.

85

a 12.13.05 at 8:51 am

brendan – Did you disapprove of the Syrian intervention at the time of the intervention?

86

Brendan 12.13.05 at 9:38 am

I was far too young to have an opinion at the time :). I don’t know too much about it, but a quick websearch shows that Syria first got involved in Lebanon in ’76 when i was 5.

87

Brendan 12.13.05 at 11:16 am

Dsquared,

is ‘Karl Marx’ really Nick Cohen?

88

Chris Williams 12.13.05 at 11:51 am

Cohen’s certainly tried that “Who are your comrades in Iraq, you pro-fascists?” above his own name. IIRC I replied, “The WCPI”. No response from him. On the other hand, I can’t for the life of me find it on google, so it may be false memory.

89

dsquared 12.13.05 at 11:52 am

I don’t know; this was a joke by me. You would probably be well-advised not to say that it was.

90

Chris Williams 12.13.05 at 11:54 am

And sure enough, once I admit I can’t find it, the first thing that I do is just that. Here we go:
http://crookedtimber.org/2005/07/26/reading-the-small-print/
I still miss Nick, though – at one stage he was on our side, unlike that Hitchens, who was only ever on his own.

91

dsquared 12.13.05 at 12:04 pm

It took a hell of a lot of finding, but here they are. Norhing is too good for our loyal readers.

I’ve just realised that in principle the same person could be impersonating NC and KM, so I redouble my apology and withdrawal.

92

roger 12.13.05 at 12:18 pm

Actually, a test is coming up of the accuracy of the Oxford Research Poll. Given that Allawi is the most liked leader in the poll, let’s see how he does. In my opinion, the poll’s results show a distinct class bias — an avoidance of, for instance, the vast mass of the unemployed and the poor. However, this is only an inference — the poll’s takers, maddeningly, feel that they have done their statistical duty merely by assuring us that they have taken samples from each region.

Myself, I have a hard time believing Allawi has suddenly emerged as Iraq’s most popular guy. However, opinions shift quickly. The Sunnis may have forgiven him for Fallujah, and the Shiites might look back on Fallujah admiringly, as a sample of the kind of massive punishment that should be doled out to the Sunnis. Stranger contradictions have elected stranger politicians.

But I’d bet against it, and the poll, at this point.

93

roger 12.13.05 at 1:02 pm

ps — re Allawi, I imagine the U.S. discovery of torture centers run by the Interior ministry is all about helping Allawi. The centers were reported on almost a year ago in the Guardian. The U.S. has certainly not just discovered them. The timing is such as to rally Sunnis to their “natural” candidate, and the American candidate. The risk of alienating Shi’ites is low, however, since these centers are connected to SCIRI, and the Americans probably think that SCIRI has noplace to go but to continue to use American troops as instruments of ethnic cleansing in Anbar province and elsewhere.

94

Brendan 12.13.05 at 1:35 pm

Oi, Karl! Are you Nick Cohen?

Comments on this entry are closed.