What is often left out of this debate is what the Iraqis themselves want. We know very little about what it's like to live in Iraq under occupation by a foreign military, yet we assume that if we pull out, things will only get worse. If the US government is serious about "promoting democracy" shouldn't we be listening to what Iraqis want? According to a Washington Post article [click here for the article] from Dec. 19, 2007, "The Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of 'occupying forces' as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military [The good news is that at least the military is trying to get this information.] last month." [While I do not doubt that this is the case, I always prefer to see the original report rather than rely on a reporter's interpretation of the report. However, I cannot find it anywhere. If anyone knows where I can find the source document, I would appreciate it.] According to a poll conducted for the BBC and ABC News in 2007 [click here for the poll results], 78% of Iraqis oppose the presence of coalition forces in Iraq. [see Q21 below]Here are some questions from the poll with some results:
Q7 Not personally, but in terms of Iraq, what in your opinion is the single biggest problem facing Iraq as a whole? The highest was lack of security/safety (general) 23%. Next was terrorist attacks at 13%. U.S. occupation/presence was only at 8%.
Q19 Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose the presence of Coalition forces in Iraq? A total of 79% oppose the presence of Coalition forces. Of the 79%, 26% are only somewhat opposed while 53% are strongly opposed. I would expect that any people would not want a foreign military presence so these results are not too surprising. The question is when should they leave. See the next question.
Q21 How long do you think US and other Coalition forces should remain in Iraq? Should they leave now, remain until security is restored, remain until the Iraqi government is stronger, remain until Iraqi security forces can operate independently, remain longer but leave eventually, or never leave? 47% say leave now. For the majority who say that they should not leave now 34% say they should remain until security is restored, 10% said remain until the government is stronger, 7% said to remain until security forces can operate independently, and 2% said remain longer but leave eventually. Incidentally, the way this question is asked makes it look like the largest percentage want the forces to leave now. But when you add up the others, 53% want them to stick around awhile longer.
Q22 Overall, do you think the presence of US forces in Iraq is making security in our country better, worse, or having no effect on the security situation? 72% say worse.
Q27 Who do you blame the most for the violence that is occurring in the country? They rate the U.S at 19% (down from 31% the previous Feb) and Pres. Bush at 8%. Al Qaeda/foreign jihads were rated higher at 21% and Iran at 11%.