The release Monday, March 19, of the results of the D3 Systems
survey of public attitudes among Iraqis as they enter their fifth
year of foreign military occupation and war reminded me to go on
a hunt for an old blog of mine about an earlier — and suppressed –
survey of Iraqi attitudes carried out in the middle of May, 2004 –
nearly three years ago, and shortly after the news from the U.S.-owned and operated Abu Ghraib resort spa really hit the fans.
See below, where I'll reproduce the old survey. (The results are still there, as electronically available as ever, in case anybody cares to check.)
But unlike the period of May – June 2004, when nobody would report the findings of how miserable the Iraqi people were under the terror and torture regime of the U.S. occupation, this time the anguish of the Iraqi people is long past the suppression stage. Even by the establishment media.
"Polling in Iraq: Planning, Luck, and Tragic Stories," Gary Langer, ABC News, March 19, 2007
"Poll: Iraqis Gripped by Fear and Anger," Will Lester, Associated Press, March 19, 2007 (as posted to Al Jazeerah.info)
"Pessimism 'growing among Iraqis'," BBC News International, March 19, 2007
"Iraq poll 2007: In graphics," BBC News International, March 19, 2007
"From hope to despair in Baghdad," John Simpson, BBC News International, March 19, 2007
"US public's support of Iraq war sliding faster now," Ben Arnoldy, Christian Science Monitor, March 20, 2007
"In Iraq, public anger is at last translating into unity," Sami Ramadani, The Guardian, March 20, 2007
"Four years of the most grievous suffering," Editorial, The Independent, March 20, 2007
"Angst, Verzweiflung, Hoffnungslosigkeit," Jan Oltmanns, Tagesschau.de, March 20, 2007
"Refugee crisis rattles Iraq," Tim Harper, Toronto Star, March 20, 2007
"Support peaceful plan so the U.S. can leave Iraq," Yusra Moshtat and Jan Oberg, Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, March 19-20, 2007
"Iraq's fault lines easily traced in opinions on its plight, fate," Susan Page, USA Today, March 20, 2007
"Iraq: Burden of UN Sanctions," Hans-Christof von Sponeck, Economic and Political Weekly, November 19, 2005
A Different Kind of War: The UN Sanctions Regime in Iraq, Hans-Christof von Sponeck (Berghahn Books, 2006)
The Human Cost of the War in Iraq: A Mortality Study, 2002-06, Gilbert Burnham et al., October, 2006 (as posted by the Center for International Studies, MIT)
"Updated Iraq Survey Affirms Earlier Mortality Estimates," Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, October 11, 2006
Dreams and Nightmares, American Friends Service Committee mobile exhibit on life and death in Iraq (ongoing)
"Four Years Later… And Counting: Billboarding the Iraqi Disaster," Anthony Arnove, TomDispatch.com, March 18, 2007
"ABC (Under)counting Iraqi Dead," Action Alert, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, March 21, 2007
"And how do you rate conditions where you live?" ZNet, March 19, 2007
THE COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY'S SUPPRESSED OPINION POLL
(ZNet, June 15, 2004)
A hitherto suppressed survey of public opinion conducted in six Iraqi cities on behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority in mid-May has found, in the words of one CPA pollster, a "pretty grim" view of the Americans.
He was being optimistic. Associated Press's gloss on the poll came much closer to the truth. It provides the Bush regime a "stark picture of anti-American sentiment ," AP's reporter writes, with "more than half of Iraqis" expressing the belief that "they would be safer if U.S. troops simply left." (John Solomon, "U.S. poll of Iraqis finds widespread anger at prison abuse, worry about safety," June 15.)
The survey, "Public Opinion in Iraq: First Poll Following Abu Ghraib Revelations" (May 14-23, 2004), is accessible online in a slide format (so called). Aside from this and today's AP report, news of the survey remains virtually nonexistent.
"Refusals were the highest seen to date," the pollsters note, meaning the number of Iraqis who refused to participate in the survey was the highest ever (p. 2).
Not surprisingly, security tops Iraqi concerns by a large margin (59%, compared to 16% for the economy) (p. 3).
Moreover, Iraqis have less confidence in the CPA and the occupying forces than any other institution operating in the country (p. 6). (See p. 6, where the chart depicts confidence in these two institutions as almost wholly in the RED ZONE, meaning non-existent.)
In contrast, Iraqis expressing varying degrees of confidence in anything Iraqi (pp. 8-11). Even the religious-cum-military figure Moqtada al-Sadr (p. 14).
Importantly, the greatest degree of positive feelings about Iraqi figures is expressed towards the religious figure Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (51%), Ebrahim Jaafari, the Deputy President designate of the Interim Iraqi Government, and one of the most popular political figures in Iraq (39%), and Moqtada al-Sadr (32%). But the Iraqi figures with the greatest degree of negative feelings expressed towards them are the Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani (50%) and Massoud Barzani (49%), and the Prime Minister-designate, Ayad Allawi (40%). (p. 15)
And so on. By and large, anything that seems Iraqi has some positive connotations associated with it; anything that smacks of American Power has a decisive negative connotation associated with it. The entire section of the opinion survey titled "Interim Government & Elections Commission" (p. 17-23) reads as such.
Thus, Iraqis feel that the occupying power has kept them in the dark about the whole Interim Iraqi Government process (p. 18, p. 22). Getting rid of the CPA and replacing it with Iraqis could only make things better, 63% believe (p. 21). Asked by the pollsters how much influence specific institutions should have in selecting the Interim Iraqi Government, religious communities, international experts, tribal leaders, the United Nations, and community political leaders, all come out on the positive side. (See all of the green-colored bars on the right-hand side of the chart (p. 23).)
The sentiment reverses, and reverses dramatically, when Iraqis are asked about American input: 69% of Iraqis believe that the CPA should have zero input; and 55% believe the American-appointed Governing Council also should have none. (See all of the red-colored bars on the left-hand side of the same chart (p. 23).)
Moral: If the Americans have touched it — forget it.
The story continues throughout. Fear and insecurity are now all-consuming emotions for Iraqis. Not fear of the ousted tyrant — whose regime, after all, was very concrete and familiar. Rather, fear itself. Paranoia. The fear that accompanies a society devastated in Biblical proportions from on-high. In answer to the pollster's question, "What kind of violence do you think is most dangerous to Iraq?" (p. 27), no less than 13 different categories are tabulated. (I'm not counting responses that fall in the "Don't know" category.) This is astonishing. This is to live in the midst of fear.
Another important theme reported by the opinion survey is the Iraqis' newfound sense of unity. The extreme levels of fighting between the Americans and the Iraqis on the streets of Fallujah and Najaf, say, as well as the American's singular focus on Moqtada al-Sadr, have given the Iraqis a greater sense of unity (64%, in fact (p. 28)).
A relatively high degree of confidence in an all-Iraqi police and army (i.e., close to nine-in-ten Iraqis (p. 33)) contrasts starkly with Iraqi sentiment towards the occupying forces (pp. 34-41).
* 92% of Iraqis see the Coalition forces as "occupiers" (p. 35).
* 85% of Iraqis think Coalition forces should leave Iraq as soon as possible, 41% saying these forces should leave "immediately" (p. 36).
* If Coalition forces left Iraq immediately, 55% of Iraqis would feel "more safe" (pp. 37-38).
* In answer to the question whether Coalition forces should remain in Iraq or leave, and why, all but 71 respondents out of a total of 1,068 gave reasons why they thought the Coalition forces should leave Iraq (p. 39).
* 67% of Iraqis "totally agree" with the statement that the violent attacks on Coalition forces around Iraq "have increased because people have lost faith in coalition forces" (p. 40).
* Whereas very few Iraqis believe that the attacks on Coalition forces are related to efforts to return the previous regime to power, clear majorities of Iraqis believe these attacks stem from what a generation or two ago would have been recognized for the "national liberation"-type ideas they express (p. 41). (Sorry I can't reproduce this very important chart here. But don't miss p. 41.)
The final section of this opinion survey, which is devoted to Iraqi opinions about the Americans' practice of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, near Baghdad (pp. 42-48), reads pretty much the way an opinion survey of American attitudes towards the same story might read. With one major exception: More than half (54%) of the Iraqis surveyed said they believe that "all Americans are like this" (p. 46), and 64% said that they've come to "expect the worst from Americans" (p. 45).
They have very good reasons to.