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What Iraqis Think of the US Occupation – A Summary of Poll Results

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 12:00 PM
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What Iraqis Think of the US Occupation – A Summary of Poll Results
The Bush administration, in its attempt to justify approximately 40,000 dead Iraqis, more than 2,500 dead and 20,000 wounded American soldiers, a cost to the United States so far of nearly $300 billion, and our continued occupation of Iraq, has repeatedly claimed that a major reason for that continued occupation is to fulfill our commitment to the Iraqi people. Therefore, given the huge costs in life and money and the stated reasons for our continued occupation, it behooves anyone concerned with our policy in Iraq to be aware of how the Iraqi people themselves feel about that occupation.

The Brookings Institution has produced a document entitled “Iraq Index – Tracking Variables of Reconstruction and Security in Post-Saddam Iraq”, which contains the results of several polls of the Iraqi people on their opinions of the U.S. occupation of their country, among other issues.

I summarize here the most recent poll results that are the most pertinent to the issue of Iraqi opinion of the US occupation, in three categories: Opinions on the performance of the U.S. led occupation forces; opinions on how long the occupation forces should stay; and, opinions of the U.S. government and people that may provide some clue to the reasons for the other poll results:


Opinions on the performance of the U.S. led occupation forces

The poll respondents were asked: Regarding US non-military assistance in the following categories, do you approve or disapprove? They were given three choices: Approve – US doing a good job; approve – but US doing a poor job; or, disapprove. Below are the percent of respondents who answered that they approve of the assistance and that the US is doing a good job:

Percent Iraqis approving of the following non-military services provided by US forces, and who believe that the US is doing a good job of providing the service
(World Public Opinion.Org Poll – January 31, 2006)


 Economic development: 29%
 Assisting with the oil industry: 28%
 Training Iraqi security forces: 33%
 Helping build Iraqi government institutions: 23%
 Infrastructure: 20%
 Helping to mediate between ethnic groups: 17%
 Helping Iraqis organize their communities: 25%

Of the remaining respondents, approximately 60% said that they approved of having the service provided, but that the US was doing a poor job, and the other approximately 40% said that they disapproved of having the assistance provided, period.


Several questions from different polls related to the Iraqi opinions of the US led forces with respect to their military function:

 In February 2005, 71% said they “oppose” the coalition and 76% said that they have little or no confidence in the US military forces improving the situation in Iraq. In the same poll, 76% said that they have quite a lot or a great deal of confidence in the Iraqi National Guard improving the situation in Iraq (US Military poll.)

 In August 2005, 82% said they were “strongly opposed” to the presence of coalition troops (British Ministry of Defense Poll)

 In October-November 2005, 64% said that they “oppose or strongly oppose” coalition forces in Iraq (Time/ABC News Poll)


When the question became more specific, the favorable opinion of the US led forces plummeted even further:

 In August 2005, less than 1% said that coalition forces were responsible for ANY improvement in security (British Ministry of Defense Poll)

 In March 23-31, 2006, only 1% said that they preferred the coalitions forces to “protect your personal safety”, compared to 78% for the Iraqi Army and police combined. (International Republican Institute)

And finally, as an indication of just how strong the opposition is in some quarters, a January 2006 poll indicated that 47% actually support attacks on US led forces (World Public Opinion.Org Poll).


Opinions on how long US led forces should stay

The January 2006 World Public Opinion.Org Poll indicated that 87% or Iraqis “approve the government endorsing a timeline for US withdrawal”. The Time/ABC News poll of October-November 2005 provided more specifics on this question, with the following choices for when coalition forces should leave Iraq:

 Now: 26%
 When Iraqi security forces are ready: 16%
 After a new government is in place: 19%
 When security is restored: 31%


Other opinions of the US government and people

I found three poll questions that provided clues to why the Iraqi people think so poorly of the US led coalition forces:

Do you think the US government plans to have permanent military bases in Iraq?
(World Public Opinion.Org Poll – January 31, 2006)
Yes: 80%

If the new Iraqi government were to tell the US to withdraw all its forces within six months, do you think the US would do so?
(World Public Opinion.Org Poll – January 31, 2006)
Yes: 23%

Do you believe that the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib represents less than 100 people, or do you believe that all Americans are like this?
(Coalition Provision Authority Poll – May 2004)
All Americans are like this: 54%
Note: This was an ambiguous question, since the only two choices they were given were at the extremes (All Americans are like this or less than 100).


Summary of opinion polls of Iraqis on the US occupation of their country

A total of ten poll questions from four different polls from 2005-2006, dealing with both military and non-military issues, consistently show that Iraqis give low marks to the US led coalition forces, ranging from 17% to 33% approval. Disapproval is strong enough among substantial portions of the Iraqi population that 47% say that they actually support attacks on US troops. And only 1% say that they prefer the coalition forces to other available sources of security (such as the Iraqi police or army) or that the coalition forces have resulted in any improvement in security.

Although Iraqis differ on exactly when they would like US troops to leave, they overwhelmingly agree that they should leave, with 87% favoring the setting of a timeline for withdrawal.

Beyond the inability of the coalition forces to provide for the security or other needs of the Iraqis, the Iraqi desire to have the US leave as soon as possible is also based on their distrust of the intentions of American leaders. Polling results show that most Iraqis believe that the United States intends to stay for a long time, if not permanently, regardless of the wishes of Iraqi citizens. That should not be surprising, given that the Bush administration has done little or nothing to ease such fears. The revelations of the torture of Iraqi prisoners further undermine the confidence that Iraqis have in the US occupation of their country.


Conclusion

Anthony Shadid, in his Pulitzer prize winning book, “Night Draws Near – Iraq’s People in the Shadow of American War”, provides additional clues as to why the Iraqis have such a negative view of their occupiers today. Prior to the US invasion, Iraqi opinions of the coming war were extremely varied, with dread being mixed with anticipated relief of having Saddam Hussein removed from power. But following the invasion of Baghdad, as time wore on it became obvious that, though the American forces proved very aggressive at protecting oil supplies, they (i.e., our leaders) were much less interested in restoring to normalcy other aspects of Iraqi life, such as the availability of electricity, which many Iraqis were without for several months. It was very difficult for Iraqis to believe that a country as powerful as ours couldn’t do a better job of providing basic government security and other services if we cared. And of course, the provision of extremely lucrative no-bid contracts to long time benefactors of the Bush administration, along with failure to hold them accountable for the fulfillment of those contracts, didn’t help to foster confidence.

The Bush administration and politicians of all stripes claim that a major reason for our continuing presence in Iraq is to fulfill a commitment to the Iraqi people. These polls cast a great deal of doubt on whether our continuing presence in Iraq is of any benefit to them. With the rapidly mounting costs of our continued occupation, in blood and treasure, we would do well to thoroughly consider how the Iraqi people feel about our occupation of their country. Any American politician who speaks of our commitment to the Iraqi people as a rationale for continuing to occupy their country should be ready to address evidence of how the Iraqis themselves feel about that “commitment” if he or she wants to be taken seriously on that issue.
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acmavm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 12:07 PM
Response to Original message
1. One of the first signs that the administration didn't give a shit about
the Iraqi people (besides dropping bombs on their defenseless asses and only guarding the Oil Ministry) was the fact that all the reconstruction work went to outsiders. Not to the Iraqi people, who built their country into on of the most modern in the entire Middle East, but outsiders who were their to cash in on the criminal war and occupation.

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Jack Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 12:20 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. One of the first signs that the Bushies didn't give a shit about Iraqis
Was when they said they were going to bring democracy to Iraq, but weren't asking cab drivers in Baghdad or dockworkers in Basra what kind of Iraq they wanted; on the other hand, they were most anxious to seek out the opinion of a convicted embezzler who had left Iraq when in his early teens.
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MissWaverly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 12:29 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. could you be referring to Ahmad Chalabi by any chance?
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 09:47 PM
Response to Reply #2
14. Another sign that they don't give a damn about bringing democracy to Iraq
is that he's trying to destroy democracy in his own country.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 03:59 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. The possibility that Bush Co might give a shit about the Iraqis -
or anyone else for that matter - never even crossed my mind.

But the question of what the Iraqis think of our occupation of their country is a different (though related) question than what the intentions of the Bush administration were are are. It's theoretically possible that they could have had good intentions initially, but the occupation is nevertheless damaging to Iraqi citizens. Or it could be theoretically possible that the intentions were not good, but the occupation is nevertheless serving a useful purpose for the Iraqis (In fact, some Iraqis do apparently feel that way according to the polls, though it is also possible that many of them felt pressured to answer the polls in a way that wouldn't disturb the Americans).

But the bottom line is that the good majority of Iraqis don't want us there, and that fact needs to be explained by politicians who talk of the "commitment" that we owe to the Iraqis.
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WePurrsevere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 12:29 PM
Response to Original message
3. What the Iraqis want & need should trump what BushCo wants BUT...
that won't happen because BushCo and the neo-CONs only know how to look after their own best interests... no one elses opinions matter, even in their own country.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 01:57 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. That's very true - BUT
Dems need to point out these things. When BuchCo and the Neocons talk about our "commitment" to the Iraqi people, we need to throw these polls in their face and let them try to respond to that. That's the best way I know of to create the kind of political pressure that we need to put on these people.
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WePurrsevere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 02:13 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I totally agree... the problem is that they often ignore those of us
they don't want to hear... which means we need to become the world's most annoying "squeeky wheel". :evilgrin:
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-03-06 07:26 AM
Response to Reply #6
18. Yes, we need to put pressure on them by publicizing things like this
Then maybe they won't be able to ignore us - as much as they'd like to.
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mod mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 05:26 PM
Response to Original message
8. K + R
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Disturbed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 05:47 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Busholini and his Junta care about the Iraqi people.
LOL
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mod mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. but...but...he does care about their oil (doesn't that count for
compassion?)
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-03-06 08:33 AM
Response to Reply #10
19. Ok, now I get it. I finally understand what "compassionate conservative"
means.

Conservative applies to the oil, and compassionate applies to the "love". Thanks for the explanation.
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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 06:56 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Busholini is almost as ripe as bushitler, but I like the shit in shitler.
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Clarkie1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 07:00 PM
Response to Original message
12. These polls argue AGAINST the Kerry approach.
Edited on Sun Jul-02-06 07:11 PM by Clarkie1
Especially this one:
The Time/ABC News poll of October-November 2005 provided more specifics on this question, with the following choices for when coalition forces should leave Iraq:

 Now: 26%
 When Iraqi security forces are ready: 16%
 After a new government is in place: 19%
 When security is restored: 31%

So, if we take the word "timeline" out of this, 74% of Iraqis polled at that time did not want the U.S. to leave "now."

Roughly half did not want the U.S. to leave until "Iraqi security forces were ready" and/or "security is restored."

If the purpose of posting these polls is to argue that the Iraqi people support a withdrawl of U.S. forces before the Iraqi security forces are ready and security is restored (which could have hypothetically happened with the Kerry approach), I think the evidence to date does not support that conclusion.

The Iraqi people, according this admittedly somewhat dated poll (do we have a more recent one?) are as split on the occupation as the American people.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 08:30 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. I don't agree - I think these polls are very consistent with Kerry's
approach.

First, note that 87% of Iraqis endorse a timeline for pulling out -- which is at the heart of Kerry's approach.

Secondly, it is somewhat difficult to know what the respondents had in mind when they answered this poll, since the choices are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but I would certainly argue that the 16% who said that we should pull out "when Iraqi security forces are ready" have in mind a withdrawal in the very near future -- when you consider that response in the context of the whole series of polls. For example, only 1% feel that the US is as or better able to provide for their security as indigenous Iraqi institutions - primarily the Iraqi Army or Iraqi National Guard. And only 1% feel that US security has been responsible for any improvement so far. And another portion of the poll (not specified in the OP) showed that the good majority of Iraqis feel that their Army or Nation

So what we have left is 31% whose answer to the particular question that you cite ("when security is restored") perhaps indicated some ambivalence about a US withdrawal. But we don't know what that answer really means. And considering all of the other responses, it is unlikely that those who responded in this manner wish for the US to stay for any significant amount of time (and one must also consider the possibility that some answers were designed to avoid antagonizing our country).

And one last thing about that particular answer is that it was part of the Time/ABC News poll, which of all the polls seems to be the one that is most slanted towards painting a rosy picture (Not surprising, considering their conservative bias). But even that poll indicates that 64% of Iraqis oppose or strongly oppose the coalition forces in Iraq.

And no, I couldn't find a more recent poll -- The Brooking Institutes' "Iraq Index" was updated as of late June of this year.

Anyhow, the opinions of the Iraqis toward the US occupation show no evidence of improvement over time. And my main point is that their opinions should be taken into account when devising our plans -- especially for those who claim that a major reason for staying is to honor our commitment to the Iraqis.
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Clarkie1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 10:09 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. I agree completely with your last and most important point.
Edited on Sun Jul-02-06 10:16 PM by Clarkie1
"...their opinions should be taken into account when devising our plans -- especially for those who claim that a major reason for staying is to honor our commitment to the Iraqis."

Unfortunately, even with these polls it's hard to get a clear picture of what exactly the majority of Iraqis want, and sometimes the polls seem contradictory, but at least they give us something better than no idea at all of the diversity of their opinions.

When the Iraqi government asks us to go, we must go. However, If we set a timeline for complete withdrawl on a certain date, and on that date the government asks us to stay, that could become problematic. And that's just one possible scenario.

So, the most important question is when determining what the Iraqi people want (understanding that not all of them want the same thing), do we make that determination based on what the "sovereign" Iraqi government wants, or what polls (of which I am not completely confident of the methodology) indicate the Iraqi people want? If we consider both, how do we weight the two? We should be thinking about such questions at this point, it seems to me.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-02-06 11:59 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. Yes, those are very important issues that you raise
This is a very complex issue, and I very much agree with your ideas on this.

And I would like to further clarify the somewhat inconsistent poll results. Perhaps I should have discussed this in my OP, but it's rather complicated:

Despite the somewhat conflicting poll results (and it is not surprising that there would be some differences, given different polling methodology and different time periods), there are two very consistent themes.

One is the fact that the Iraqis are very much concerned with their safety, and feel the need for protection - hence they aren't too certain about exactly how the situation should be handled.

The other major theme is that they overwhelmingly have very little confidence in the American role in the whole thing. The reason for this I think is obvious, and is suggested by other poll questions: They recognize that the Bush administration doesn't care about their well being.

The invasion shouldn't have occurred in the first place, but once it did, the rebuilding of the country and keeping the peace should have been a joint effort, with the United Nations leading the way. They would have done a much better job than the Bush administration - the main reason being that that is what they are designed for, and they would have cared about the actual job of rebuilding the country and keeping the peace. I don't doubt that if that would have happened, there would be no war now. But it must have been evident to Iraqis that the Bush administration was concerned only with facilitating the war profiteering, which was obviously a major reason for the invasion in the first place. This must have created a tremendous amount of hostility, and certainly played a major role in fueling the "insurgency".
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-03-06 03:36 AM
Response to Reply #15
17. Here's a good example of that
In the World Public Opinion Poll of January 06, 59% of the Iraqi respondents, given the choice between having Iraqi security forces ready to take over in 6 months, versus "Will still need the help of military forces from other countries", 59% chose the latter. That sounds on the surface that they might want us to stay for quite a while, right?

But in the very same poll, 47% said that they "support the attacks on US led forces". That is damn good evidence that many of the 59% who said that they will still need help in 6 months were not talking about US led forces. In fact, given the results of the rest of the poll questions, it is highly doubtful that more than a very small minority of that 59% were talking about US led forces.
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PinkyisBlue Donating Member (617 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-03-06 11:28 PM
Response to Original message
20. I don't understand these results.
I can't understand why the majority of the Iraqi people want us out. I mean, we're bringing them democracy. (Just ignore the fact that we bombed the hell out of their cities, were unable to control the pandemonium afterwards, and now occupy the cities with no plans to leave).
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-04-06 08:26 AM
Response to Reply #20
21. Yeah, it's hard to understand
Actually, it's not true that we were unable to control the pandemonium afterwards. Bush Co simply didn't care enough to make that a priority. There seemed to be little or no effort put into it.
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PinkyisBlue Donating Member (617 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-04-06 12:12 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. Yes, you're right.
The military was able to oversee the oil fields to ensure their safety, but the integrity of the museums, historic buildings, schools, etc. wasn't considered important. Let's get our priorities straight.
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