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Freedom's Fidelity

Friday, July 01, 2005

Iraq: What's Really Going On?

Military blogger Greyhawk, has written a worthwhile series examining the differing lenses through which the war has been covered by different media and independent journalists. It's a well laid out 5 part series, and here is a key insight from Part I:

Another story from Arthur's collection:

Recent polling data shows that fully two-thirds of Iraqis believe their country is headed in the right direction, Saboon said. While a poll in January showed only 11 percent of Sunni Muslims in Iraq shared that view, that percentage has since grown to 40, he said.

Though Sunnis largely didn't participate in the Transitional National Assembly election Jan. 30, that outlook has changed as well in anticipation of coming elections. Saboon, who is a Sunni, said 92 percent of eligible voters throughout Iraq and 80 percent of the country's Sunnis are likely to vote in the next election.

Saboon told the group that Iraqi security forces now have the confidence of 83 percent of Iraq's population, that 70 percent are confident in the transitional Iraqi government, and that 73 percent believe the government is representative of the Iraqi population.

In contast, here's what America thinks, according to USA Today:

Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, a new Gallup Poll finds, the most downbeat view of the war since it began in 2003.

Let's assume (for sake of discussion) that both claims are true and accurate. If so, an obvious conclusion can be drawn: Those who live in Iraq have a decidedly different opinion than those who only know what they read in the papers and see on TV.

To further support Greyhawk's conclusion lets note that while recruiting for the military has fallen slightly below stated goals, retention rates have actually risen.

Finally here is my own little contribution, from a Chicago Tribune article I read on my 'el' ride in the other morning:
Though violence surrounds them, Iraqis list the lack of electricity as their No. 1 concern--though megawatt production is now higher than it was before the 2003 U.S. invasion, according to figures compiled by the Brookings Institution.

A lack of jobs and health care ran second and third in a recent poll. Personal safety was fourth.

Again we see the media selling the 'quagmire' meme (how can they be concerned about electricity when violence surrounds them?!?), while actual Iraqis seem to be concerned with more pedestrian issues of employment and healthcare. Omar, another voice inside Iraq, concurs:

It's visible to everyone that debates over the war in Iraq, war on terror, invasion or occupation or whatever you may name it are at peak levels right now.

The process is being questioned, criticized and discussed more profoundly than at any time in the last two years but you know what?

That's not happening in Iraq; you can find such discussions and accusations in America but you can't find them in Iraq.

Go read Greyhawk's 5 part series, it's chock full of interesting links and pieces of news, with much deeper detail and insight than anything coming from major newspapers. You don't have to take my word for it, he puts the reports head to head so you can decide for yourself.

Here's Part I again, follow that and you'll find the rest. That's your 4th of July homework.


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