June 20, 2003
HOW RELIABLE IS THIS POLL? Beats me. But it's interesting:
Iraq’s first opinion poll since the war, indeed in decades, showed that 73 per cent of Baghdad residents think the army has failed to enforce security in the city, which is still plagued by shootings, car-jackings and armed looters.
But in a candid acknowledgement that there is as yet no alternative, only 17 per cent of those polled by the independent Iraqi Institute of Strategic Studies said that the coalition should leave now. Half wanted the US forces to stay until a permanent government had been elected, a process that could take up to two years.
The rest of the article, however, is far more troubling, with emphasis on the persistence of disorder in and around Baghdad. It fits uncomfortably well with this report by Salam Pax.
Things seem to be considerably better elsewhere in Iraq, which is no surprise -- the "Sunni belt" retains the most Ba'ath holdovers and is probably where Saudi Wahabbists are focusing their efforts to destabilize the country.
UPDATE: Reader Jody Leavell expresses irritation with Salam's passivity and notes:
The American problem may be too few troops in place to adequately secure the city. The residents of Baghdad's problem isn't the Americans, nor the militants, it is their own apathy and failure to take responsibility for their plight and build a better future.
Yes. I spoke to a friend of mind in the defense establishment, who doesn't have direct responsibility for Iraq but who is interested and perceptive. He remarked that the big intelligence failure was in underestimating just how badly Saddam had wrecked civil society in Iraq. But he also remarked that the Iraqis want to get back to civil society really badly, and he thinks they're starting to overcome their shell-shock.