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Iraqi opinion polls and the “Does he take sugar?” tendency

John Rentoul

usleave 300x168 Iraqi opinion polls and the Does he take sugar? tendencyIn my post last night about the imminent Iraq war 10th anniversary hate fest I wondered why so few people want to know if the Iraqis think the 2003 invasion was “worth it”. Some of the anti-war types seem to belong to the “Does he take sugar?” tendency, refining anti-American conspiracy theories among themselves as if the supposed victims of allaboutoilism have no opinion.

Anyway, I said in yesterday’s post that nobody seems to be carrying out opinion polls in Iraq any more. It turns out that this was, in the language of the “Does he take sugar?” tendency, a lie – that is, an assertion made in good faith that turned out not to be true.

I am grateful to the well-informed Meg Munn, a Labour MP who visits Iraq frequently, for letting me know about polls carried out by GQR for the National Democratic Institute.

The most recent was in April 2012. It tempers the gloomy picture painted by Toby Dodge, finding that more Iraqis (48%) thought the country was moving in the right direction than the wrong one (44%). It showed increases in those thinking the Iraqi economy was strong (52%) and that security and sectarianism were getting better (page 26).

One of the more depressing findings is that Iraqis were equally divided (45% to 45%) as to whether or not “Iraq today is a real democracy” (page 37).

There was also a Zogby poll in September 2011, just before the withdrawal of US combat troops in December. (This was drawn to my attention by someone who called me Julius Streicher, but it by no means shows what he thinks it shows.)

More Iraqis (42%) said they were “worse off than they were before the American forces entered their country” than “better off” (30%, page 4). The only area in which they think things have improved since then is “religious freedom” (by 39% to 36%, page 6).

But asked (page 19) “How optimistic/pessimistic are you about the long-term prospects for stability and progress in your country?” 55% were optimistic and 31% pessimistic.

As far as I know, no opinion poll in Iraq since 2006 has asked whether Iraqis think the 2003 invasion was “worth it”, but that is mainly because it is not a question that they spend much time debating.

But it would be good if the “Does he take sugar?” tendency at least realised that the opinions of the Iraqi people matter too.

Photograph of US forces leaving Iraq: Getty

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  • creggancowboy

    Yet the west supported Iraq as a bulwark against Iran in the 1980’s, so your argument is jejune.

  • Kippers

    “Some of the anti-war types seem to belong to the “Does he take sugar?” tendency, refining anti-American conspiracy theories among themselves as if the supposed victims of allaboutoilism have no opinion.”
    Please stop writing in riddles. More people might read your blog, and have a serious debate, if you wrote in straightforward English.

  • takeoman

    In your case a lie is when you make assertions without doing the research to find out if they are true or not ie you are too lazy to do your job properly. A journalistic joke, an academic disgrace.

  • Pacificweather

    ” It tempers the gloomy picture painted by Toby Dodge, finding that more Iraqis (48%) thought the country was moving in the right direction than the wrong one (44%).”

    A 4% difference is within the margin of error of even the best conducted poll. Remember the polling before the Common Market referendum? Still, if it makes you happy John – you have so little in your life to do that – why should we begrudge you this crumb of comfort.

  • porkfright

    You are spending too much time deriding conspiracists, Mr.R. They must be way out in the lead. But don’t worry. There really were WMD, no-one at all was on on the grassy knoll, and the neocons are a piece of complete and utter fiction.

  • Pingback: Iraq 10 Years On: Was It Worth It? | John Rentoul | Independent Eagle Eye Blogs

  • Pingback: Iraq 10 Years On: Was It Worth It? | John Rentoul | Independent Eagle Eye Blogs


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