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The Problem With Iraqi Polls

Matt Yglesias responds to a Nick Kristof op-ed that calls for a pull-out from Iraq on the basis of Iraqi public opinion. Here is Kristof: First, a poll this spring of Iraqis — who know their country much better than … Read More

By / July 12, 2007

Matt Yglesias responds to a Nick Kristof op-ed that calls for a pull-out from Iraq on the basis of Iraqi public opinion. Here is Kristof:

First, a poll this spring of Iraqis — who know their country much better than we do — shows that only 21 percent think that the U.S. troop presence improves security in Iraq, while 69 percent think it is making security worse. . . . We simply can’t want to be in Iraq more than the Iraqis want us to be there. 

Yglesias seconds this judgment and adds, without a trace of irony, that another plebiscite shows that most Iraqis approve of attacks on American soldiers…

Now consider these two majorities for a moment. On the one hand, you have the question of whether a U.S. troop presence is beneficial for the country's security, a question that carries with it the implication that U.S. troops are working for the national good but may or may not be successful at it. On the other hand, you have another question that implies U.S. troops are inherently malignant and worthy of being killed.  Does this not strike you as a pretty stark fissure in the edifice of Iraqi consensus?  And to which poll are we to defer if relying on sentiments on the ground is to be our metric for determining future war policy?

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