Aiming for the best

As Australian Prime Minister John Howard is reportedly considering lifting the number of troops in Iraq – while at the same still defending the Vietnam war and saying a public figure should never recant positions, even if they are wrong – the latest opinion poll from Iraq challenges the false rhetoric of Western supporters of the occupation:

Most Shia Arabs living in Baghdad have shifted in recent months from preferring the open-ended deployment of foreign troops in Iraq to wanting a one-year timetable for withdrawal. Nonetheless, a growing majority of Shias in the conflict-ridden capital say that if U.S.-led forces leave within six months there could be an upsurge in inter-ethnic violence.

An analysis of two nationwide polls taken by World Public in Iraq over the past year reveals both a heightened sense of insecurity in Baghdad, which is suffering from a wave of shootings, kidnappings and bombings, and an increasing desire to place some time limit on the presence of foreign troops. Unlike Shias elsewhere, those living in the capital do not favour disarming the militias.

Eight out of ten Shias in Baghdad (80%) say they want foreign forces to leave within a year (72% of Shias in the rest of the country), according to a poll conducted by World Public Opinion in September. None of the Shias polled in Baghdad want U.S.-led troops to be reduced only “as the security situation improves,” a sharp decline from January, when 57 percent of the Shias polled by WPO in the capital city preferred an open-ended U.S presence.

If America or Australia want to increase troop levels, that’s simply more men and women for target practice.

UPDATE: An exclusive from the New York Review of Books; Mark Danner on “Iraq: The War of the Imagination.”

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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