Tuesday, December 13, 2005

ABC News/Time Poll on Iraq

Juan Cole refers us to the complete results of the recent survey of Iraqis' attitudes toward the war, occupation, and conditions in Iraq; and he summarizes the findings:

Things are going badly in Iraq today: 52% (30% say "very badly").

There has been no improvement since Saddam fell or things are worse: 60%

It was wrong for the US to invade Iraq: 50%

(Only 19% say it was "absolutely right" for the US to invade)

Oppose presence of Coalition troops in Iraq: 65%

Iraq needs a government made up mainly of religious leaders: 48%

Iraq needs a government made up mainly of military leaders: 49%

Iraq needs a strong single leader: 91%

Iraq needs an Iraqi democracy: 90%

40% of Iraqis want a dictatorship and/or an Islamic State ((down from 49% in Feb.)
58% of Iraqis want "democracy" (up from 49% in Feb.)

The problem with an item like this is that we don't know what they mean by "democracy." Over 80% of Egyptians said in one poll that democracy is the best form of government, and then 64% of them turned around and said they were satisfied with the Mubarak regime (a soft military dictatorship). So Egyptians didn't mean by "democracy" what Americans would have.

Actually, for most Middle Easterners, "democracy" implies self-determination. By that measure, Iraq is not very democratic at the moment.

The poll seems to define democracy as the principle that leaders are replaced from time to time. If that is all that the 90% want, it doesn't tell us much.

The other problem is that I find it a little difficult to believe that basic ideologies like these have shifted so massively in only a few months, and I suspect we'd be better off averaging the two for 2005 results than in assuming we are seing trends here.

Finally, there are some obvious contradictions. 48% want rule by mulla, but only 13% want an Islamic state. How does that make sense?

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