Dear Mr Stephens
While visiting New York recently I read your column in the Wall Street Journal entitled ‘Why Iraqis back McCain’ (17 June 2008).
In your article you state "Iraq… will be praying for a McCain victory" in the forthcoming US Presidential elections. You seem to base this argument on your talks with "four key provincial Iraqi leaders" because you were unable to phone "1,000 Iraqis to get their views on Obama-McCain".
However, although you were unable to survey Iraqi opinion, are you aware that many opinion polls have been conducted in Iraq since the 2003 US-UK invasion? And while I am not aware of a question specifically about Obama and McCain, several of the opinion polls do ask about the general public stances of the two Presidential candidates – that McCain will continue the occupation until the war is won, while Obama seems to favour a withdrawal of US combat troops.
For example, a secret poll conducted by the British Ministry of Defence in October 2005 (and subsequently leaked to the Telegraph newspaper) found 82 per cent of Iraqis were "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/1023-01.htm). In September 2006 an opinion poll for WorldPublicOpinion.org by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland found that a large majority of Iraqis—71 per cent—said they would like the Iraqi government to ask for U.S.-led forces to be withdrawn from Iraq within a year or less (http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/brmiddleeastnafricara/250.php?nid=&id=&pnt=250&lb=brme). A March 2007 opinion poll by D3 Systems found 77 per cent of Iraqis believed the United States was playing a negative role in Iraq.
There are many other polls that consistently show a large number of Iraqis are opposed to the presence of US-UK forces, and would like to see US-UK troops withdraw as soon as possible.
With this in mind, I find your conclusion that "Iraq… will be praying for a McCain victory" very strange. Were you aware of the many opinion polls taken in Iraq since the 2003 invasion when you wrote this?
I look forward to hearing from you.