Monday, December 11, 2006

What They Want

While we can go back and forth on the utility of the ISG report's numerous recommendations, one thing stood out to me above all else: The lack of any real reckoning with the desire of most Iraqis to see U.S. forces leave their country. Opinion poll after opinion poll confirms that desire. Unless I missed something, the closest the report comes is this brief mention on page 35:
Continued problems in Iraq could also lead to greater Iraqi opposition to the United States. Recent polling indicates that only 36 percent of Iraqis feel their country is heading in the right direction, and 79 percent of Iraqis have a "mostly negative" view of the influence that the United States has in their country. Sixty-one percent of Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces. If Iraqis continue to perceive Americans as representing an occupying force, the United States could become its own worst enemy in a land it liberated from tyranny.
The report couches the importance of Iraqi public opinion within the issue of "continued problems" -- in other words, as soon as we magically solve the security issue, Iraqis will welcome our presence. Since at this point it is our presence itself -- not our failures -- that understandably fuels the overwhelmingly indigenous insurgency and at least some of the sectarian violence, this strikes me as circular reasoning. The ISG report isn't unique in this regard; the issue of Iraqi public opinion is virtually ignored in the U.S. media and Beltway-sanctioned discourse. It's easier to write off 79% of Iraqis as "al Qaeda members" or "terrorists," isn't it?

The lack of consideration given to Iraqi public opinion symbolizes the same hubris-rooted patriarchal approach that has marked our missteps and miscalculations from the beginning. Except for the Kurds, of course, what evidence do we have of congruence between our interests and those of "Iraqis" in general? Beyond the desire for basic "security" -- and it's now obvious even that desire is far from mutual or uniform -- what makes us think that Iraq as represented by Maliki actually shares our goals? Isn't this a basic question?


Anonymous Jeremy said...

Well put. In Iraq, WE are the problem. In a feudal, perhaps even pre-feudal condition, the tribesmen there do not want peace, they want the blood of the other tribes. We are interfering with their lives, and until we get out we will just create more hatred, more terrorists and more bombers. And we will be retarding their chances of eventually growing out of that condition.

12/11/2006 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...that deposing saddam/wmd was the reason for going in in the first place was an urban myth...must stay the course now till things are flowing again....

schaefer is a patriot

12/11/2006 9:32 AM  
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12/11/2006 12:11 PM  
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12/11/2006 12:17 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

In addition to continued hubris, these report-makers operate in an America-centric worldview. It's a mix of "can do" and "everyone loves us". I'm surprised we haven't heard them demand a Marshall plan or a security czar in Baghdad, a proposal tossed about by a true neocon fantasist on Meet the Press.

12/11/2006 12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In times of war the invaders never ask the invaded what they want. Why should we expect it to be different this time. After we (USA) have secured the oil, and set up our Iraq Quantanmo, then we will see some type of symbolic announcement of the withdrawal of troops, but... we will always be present with "advisors" just as the report recommends.

12/11/2006 6:38 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

A security czar...oh yes...that's a good one.

12/11/2006 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Recent polling indicates that only 36 percent of Iraqis feel their country is heading in the right direction[.]"

Heh. Isn't that pretty close to Americans' responses to the same question about our own country?

12/11/2006 11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since when has any opinion of an arab counted for anything in this country?

The only nation that we respect or listen to is Israel.

That is more than born out when the IRS states that the only violance that is counted are those that touch or involve americans.

Those that kill or hurt Iraqis are invisable.

Get it?

So who in this government cares what the ragheads want or think?

Sad, very sad and it shows the corruption of this administration.

And so proudly we wave the flag of freedom and democracy!!!

12/12/2006 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good work this...

al maliki at work... (c.f recommendation 28/30)

12/13/2006 3:42 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

why is schaefer a patriot?

12/13/2006 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...If one puts forward an idea to a true Englishman--always a rash thing to do--he never dreams of considering whether the idea is right or wrong. The only thing he considers of any importance is whether one believes it oneself. Now, the value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it. Indeed, the probabilities are that the more insincere the man is, the more purely intellectual will the idea be, as in that case it will not be coloured by either his wants, his desires, or his prejudices...[lord henry wotton]

12/14/2006 6:39 AM  
Blogger DED said...

I'm waiting for someone in the press corps to ask Snowjob, "If the overwhelming majority of Iraqis don't want us there, then why are we still there?"

12/14/2006 8:18 PM  

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