From David Moloney
The Editor of the Spectator in the UK, Boris Johnson, who is also a Conservative MP, commissioned a polling firm called YouGov to do a poll of Iraqi's which they did and the results are published in the Spectator dated 19 July. The results are interesting and the editorial thought them consoling , a view I do not share. The poll was conducted in three days in twenty locations and the team left Iraq with 800 completed surveys.
The first question was whether the US and UK war against Saddam was right or wrong- 50% said right, 23% wrong with a surprising 23 % had no opinion or did not answer the question. The next question related to the main reason for the war; 47% thought it was to secure oil supplies, 41 % thought that it was to help Israel with 23 % considered it was to rescue the people of Iraq from dictatorship with only 6% thought it was about WMD! The view of the people towards the US and UK Forces was split between 50 % neither friendly or hostile , 26 % friendly and a worrying 18 % hostile. When they were asked to choose between living under Saddam or the Americans, 29 % voted for the Americans with a surprising 9% for Saddam, but 47% had no preference and 15% did not have a view. In relation to the kind of Government people wanted and then expected , the two main selections were Democracy wanted 36%,expected 32% and Islamic tempered with modern ideals of justice and punishment wanted 26 , expected 20; that result would not appeal to the US Administrator.
Asked about the longevity of the occupation 31% thought they should stay a few years, 25 % were of the view that the forces should stay a year with 20% agreeing they should stay a while but leave inside 12 months and only 13% thought they should leave immediately. In response to the question of the handling over of political power over 70% wanted it to happen within 12 months and, of that number, 40% thought it should happen straight away.
The list of problems affecting people in Bagdad is lengthy and includes no power -80, danger of attack in the streets- 67, danger of attack at work/home- 50, lack of clean drinking water- 49 , lack of medical facilities/ medicines - 33, lack of clean washing water- 25, shortage of food- 24, business closed- 21 and schools closed - 17. One would think that the coalition forces would have a real focus on getting the power on and the provision of clean water to the people of Iraq and fix those vital problems as soon as possible. The question on the relative safety of Iraq 75 % thought it was more dangerous since the forces arrived and only 14% thought it was safer with 10% noting there was no real change.
The only reasonably positive news, in my opinion was that in the results as to if life was better or worse; those for better went from 32 now to 52 in 5 years time whilst those thought things were worse went from 47 now to 11 in 5 years time.
The poll, whilst probably not statistically perfect, is claimed to have captured the mood in Bagdad at the time the poll was taken. The problem for the US and the UK commanders in Iraq is that the mood has probably got a great deal worse with the number of innocent Iraqi's civilians shot by the US soldiers in the search for members of the former regime.
The decision to ban all members of the Baath party from roles in the administration of the country is very short sighted because they need experienced administrators urgently. This decision, unlike the one made by the Allies in Germany after WWII, will only delay the time when the Iraqi people can take over and so cause more angst. Many of the officials in the previous regime were required to join the party to obtain or keep their jobs in Government even though they did not share the philosophy of Saddam and his henchmen.
Perhaps even those who were very vocal about NZ not joining the Coalition at the outset must be now thinking that we were lucky not to be involved and are not responsible what is now a bit of a shambles.