Monday, March 19, 2007

Well, that's awfully convenient -- a poll of Iraqis suggests (at least according to spin in a Rupert Murdoch paper) that there's a surprising amount of optimism in the populace -- and the poll appears one day before this poll sponsored by several major global news organizations is released:

A new national survey paints a devastating portrait of life in Iraq: widespread violence, torn lives, displaced families, emotional damage, collapsing services, an ever starker sectarian chasm -- and a draining away of the underlying optimism that once prevailed.

... Eighty percent of Iraqis report attacks nearby -- car bombs, snipers, kidnappings, armed forces fighting each other or abusing civilians. It's worst by far in the capital of Baghdad, but by no means confined there.

... More than half of Iraqis, 53 percent, have a close friend or relative who's been hurt or killed in the current violence. One in six says someone in their own household has been harmed. Eighty-six percent worry about a loved one being hurt; two-thirds worry deeply. Huge numbers limit their daily activities to minimize risk. Seven in 10 report multiple signs of traumatic stress.

This is the third poll in Iraq sponsored by ABC News and media partners -- in this case USA Today, the BBC and ARD German TV -- and the changes are grim. In November 2005, 63 percent of Iraqis felt very safe in their neighborhoods. Today just 26 percent say the same. One in three doesn't feel safe at all. In Baghdad, home to a fifth of the country's population, that skyrockets: Eighty-four percent feel entirely unsafe....

And note this:

... the number of Iraqis who call it "acceptable" to attack U.S. or coalition forces has soared from 17 percent in early 2004 to 51 percent now.

...Asked whom they blame most for the current violence in Iraq, far and away the most common answer -- voiced by four in 10 Iraqis -- is either U.S. and coalition forces (31 percent), or George W. Bush personally (nine percent). Al Qaeda and foreign jihadi fighters are cited by 18 percent (far more by Shiites and Kurds than by Sunnis).

Indeed, among the occurrences of local violence measured in this poll, the top mention is "unnecessary violence against citizens by U.S. or coalition forces." Forty-four percent of Iraqis -- including 60 percent of Sunni Arabs -- report this as having occurred nearby....

Right-wingers will grasp at this straw and make it the lede:

...Even as they express discontent with U.S. forces, Iraqis are equivocal about their departure.... Just over a third (35 percent) favor immediate U.S. withdrawal, peaking at 55 percent of Sunni Arabs -- fewer than might be expected given this group's nearly unanimous anti-Americanism. About four in 10 -- Sunni and Shiite alike -- say U.S. forces should remain until security is restored.


...Fewer than three in 10 Iraqis think sending additional U.S. troops to Baghdad and Anbar -- the Bush "surge" -- will improve security in these areas. Among Baghdad residents themselves, 36 percent think the surge will help things. In Anbar, where the Sunni Arab opposition is rooted, essentially everyone thinks it will make security worse.

Which obviously proves they hate freedom.

Forget what I said above -- this is going to be the right-wing headline for this poll:

While it doesn't mitigate Iraq's troubles, there has been some progress. Median household incomes have advanced from $150 per month in 2004 to $204 in 2005 and $286 now. Employment is up sharply. So is possession of consumer goods: Nearly every household in Iraq now has a satellite dish and a radio; nine in 10 have a cell phone, up from a mere 6 percent in 2004.

Headline: Iraqis Say Economy Booms! What the liberal media won't tell you!

There's a lot here and virtually none of it is good news (except for the fact that the Kurds seem happy). I'm quoting the ABC story; more at USA Today, the BBC, and, for German speakers, ARD.


UPDATE: This USA Today chart tells you how much "freedom" has actually resulted from Operation Iraqi Freedom (click to enlarge):

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