Monday, October 02, 2006

About those poll numbers...

I've been trying to write about this poll and its results-which many consider depressing while I consider interesting-and I had received many emails asking and looking for answers but I was distracted by the rising tension in Baghdad and the unexpected curfew.

I'm not going to apologize, praise or give excuses for what was shown about my people's attitude in that poll but I will try to find some objective answers and identify relevant factors of influence that led to these results.

Now that I spent enough time mulling this over, I can say that having 40% of Iraqis who disapprove of attacks on US troops is actually a surprising figure (in a good way) and it's not that bad at all. I mean the numbers indicate that war has more support in Iraq than it has in the UK itself or in countries in the Middle East where America is not waging a war! But again, if we want to comment on these numbers we need to keep a few points in our minds…

The magnitude of pressure and misinformation the people here are subject to from the media is a factor that cannot be ignored. Since April 2003 and till now virtually all the media kept describing the US presence as a force of occupation even when the legal status of the forces ceased to be so long time ago.
For over three years, the media kept focusing on the mistakes and shortcomings of the US military and US administration in what I can only describe as force-feeding hatred to the Iraqi people.

It's not only the media, there are also our politicians. A good deal of the political class here is guilty of treason; some betrayed the US after posing as allies and friends while some betrayed the people by dragging them to an absolutely unnecessary confrontation with the US military.
Both types have been trying to convince the people that America is responsible for instability and chaos in Iraq.

The behavior of Iraq's neighbors, Arab league, UN and the anti-war crowds in America and Europe has had a no better influence than the media or our irrational politicians and clerics.

What do you expect the attitude of the common Iraqi to be when he watches, hears or reads about the fairly wide anti-war movement in the west?
When there are Americans who say America is wrong or say the war isn't for a just cause and when Americans say the US presence in Iraq is bad, and when that is the only side of the image the media focuses on, it becomes an invitation for Iraqis to resist this presence and there's no doubt many will answer the invitation whether with words or violent action since they will get the impression that they're legitimately resisting something bad.

We have little in our culture about compromise or working-out-our-differences-peacefully. Radical solutions often seem more tempting to the ordinary, less educated people.
When everyone, and I mean everyone, keeps telling them America is their enemy, the common reaction would certainly involve violent means of expression…yes, that's our common way in showing our disagreement with others in this part of the world.
It sucks, it's backward and it's savage but it's the fact and it will not change overnight, such changes happen slowly.

We should not expect pleasing answers from confused people, living in extremely difficult conditions, subjected to extreme emotional, physical and psychological stress and being misguided and misinformed by biased media and corrupt leaders.

After all this pressure and suffering, 40% of Iraqis still view America as their friend…now really, you can't find that in many countries that America did not fire a single bullet at especially in the Middle East.
There are 40% of Iraqis who view American soldiers (not only American people) as friends and in my opinion this should be considered a good foundation for building a much better relationship.
Some improvement in performance combined with removing some of the sources of negative influence can make the numbers change drastically.

I said in the beginning I would not apologize for or praise my people's attitude but I've changed my mind. I can't ignore the part of the poll that says 94% of Iraqis disapprove of al-Qaeda! I'm sure we can't get such a result anywhere else in the Arab or Muslim world…well, maybe not even in the west…who knows!

No comments: