Speaking of polling data (the subject of my last post) on Iraq, here are a couple of important findings from recent history:
* Seventy-two percent of Americans surveyed by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in 2004 (the percentage is certainly higher today) said that the U.S. should remove its military from Iraq if that’s what a clear majority of Iraqis want (Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, Global Views 2004: American Foreign Policy and Public Opinion, October 2004, p. 17).
* A poll commissioned by the British Ministry of Defence last year found that fully EIGHTY-TWO (82) PERCENT of Iraqis were “‘strongly opposed’ to the presence of foreign troops and less than 1 percent believed the troops were responsible for improvement in security” (Richard Norton Taylor, “British Forces Arrest Nine Iraqis As Poll Shows Hostility to Troops,” The Guardian, October 24, 2005, available at www. guardian.co.uk/military/story/0,,1599184,00.html).
Americans often have relatively progressive opinions regarding various specific issues of foreign and domestic policy. Tragically but not accidentally, they tend to to think they are alone and even a little crazy in holding these opinions. The atomized privatism of American life, structured by an arrogant "elite" that wishes to never revisit the terrible "Excess of Democracy" (Samuel P. Huntingon) crisis that haunted the land during the 1960s and early 1970s, combines with the related savage and ongoing atrophy of American social and democratic institutions (see William Grieder’s classic 1980s study Who Will Tell the People?) to keep our progressive beliefs all-too marginal, personal and (therefore) devoid of active political significance.
This is part of how authoritarianism can take permanent hold and fascism can be made redundant in the most powerful nation on earth.
Not only do we tend to be ignorant of our own shared opinions, largely by "elite" design; we also and not just accidentally to struggle with significant "elite"-crafted ignorance and misinformation about public opinion in other nations.
With the data above, I hope to at least marginally contribute to overcoming some of these two forms of ignorance — (a) about our own opinions and (b) about others’ (in this case Iraqis) opinions — where they happen to overlap in an interesting and important way.
Yes we need some updated findings for 2006. U.S. policy right now seems to be geared partly at encouraging civil war in Iraq as a way of increasing support in both countries for the continued presence of the hated U.S. and UK occupation forces.