Iraqi Public and American Public Not on the Same Page

Results of a recent poll among Iraqis show that 49% prefer life under Nouri al-Maliki while 26% preferred life under Saddam Hussein. This should be no surprise to anyone aware of the religious divide in Iraq–60% are Shi’ite, 40% are Sunni (take away the Kurds and it’s somewhere around 20%).

The survey also found that only 27% believe they are in the midst of a civil war. Once again, it’s no surprise that Sunni Arabs should be more likely to feel this way as they are the ones getting spanked.

Now here’s the comparison I want to make. Last fall a CNN poll found that 65% of Americans believe that Iraq is engaged in a civil war and only 29% do not. The contrast is remarkable! If we can trust these polls, and we assume that the situation on the ground has not improved markedly during the interval, the percentage of Americans who believe Iraq is in a state of civil nearly matches the percentage of Iraqis who do not and vice versa!

The results among Iraqis are easily explained by the Sunni/Shi’ite divide, but what do you suppose accounts for the results among Americans? Why are we so eager to look at the situation through Sunni eyes? They are the minority of the population and the insurgency is comprised primarily from their number, including the residue of the Ba’ath party so long accustomed to oppressing the majority that they are reluctant to give up the monopoly on power they once enjoyed, even to the point of prolonged and futile violence.

Is this the side we should be sympathizing with the most?? Or do we have a secret bias towards Sunni religion and culture? Or perhaps are we so afraid of Iran that it distorts our perceptions of the reality going on in the country that is its traditional rival and neighbor?

Of course I’m playing games here. The discrepancy has a better explanation and I think you know what it is.


2 responses to “Iraqi Public and American Public Not on the Same Page

  1. I think that a part of it is that our nation has a longstanding tradition of hating war, and that’s not a bad thing. There has never been a war, even WW2 where the general population didn’t wish to extricate itself from it.

    Even FDR took a good deal of heat, and that was a war where about 12% of the general population was directly involved, which is a staggering number to contemplate, when less than 1% are directly involved in the current conflict.

  2. I would go farther and say that aversion to war is shared by nearly all the human race. If it seems otherwise in certain areas if the world it is only because the people there have no voice or are brainwashed.

    Yep, it’s mostly a good thing. Yet there are times when it’s not, which is why Patton made such an effective general, yes? 🙂

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