What the Iraq Poll Really Says

Since most of the analysts who’ve written about the recent USA Today poll taken in Iraq cannot actually interpret it correctly, here’s what Left I On the News has to say about it:

Conventional “wisdom” on Iraq

A lot of people, politicians and pundits and “regular” people, take the attitude that “we” just can’t leave Iraq, because we’ll be abandoning the Iraqi people to chaos, and the occupation is the only thing preventing that from happening. This is something you hear from people who supported the war but now say they realize it was a bad idea (but they still don’t think we can actually leave) as well as from people who were opposed to the war from the start. This line is said with absolute authority – the speaker knows this is what will happen if U.S. forces leave Iraq.

Even if this conventional wisdom were true, it wouldn’t justify an illegal occupation. But there’s one more little problem though – by a 2-1 margin, the Iraqi people, who are in a lot better position to know than American politicians and pundits, don’t think it’s true! This is what I think is the key result of a new poll (pdf link) that the media are writing and talking about. The question was, “do you believe that the security situation in Iraq will get better or worse in the immediate weeks following a withdrawal of Multi National Forces?” 29% said it would get “a great deal better,” 24% said “a little better,” and 6% said “stay the same.” Only 26% thought it would get a little or a lot worse. So that’s three out of five Iraqis, a clear majority, who think that the security situation in Iraq will not get worse, and only one in four who think it will get worse.

With all the coverage of this poll I’ve read and heard, though, (e.g., Washington Post, New York Times), not a single one has highlighted the result of this particular question, which relates directly to the major rationale offered why U.S. troops have to stay in Iraq. Funny, that.

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