Thursday, July 17, 2003

Despite everything, goodwill in Baghdad. Late blogging this morning -- my home Internet connection was down. I heard the results of a fascinating poll (PDF file) on the BBC while driving to work. Despite everything, a survey of adults in Baghdad shows that precisely half supports the US-British invasion and most definitely does not want Saddam Hussein back in power.

According to the poll, by the British polling company YouGov, 50 percent "think that America and Britain's war against Saddam's regime was right" and 27 percent think it was "wrong." Those expressing no opinion totaled 23 percent -- which seems weird until you remember that they were probably terrified to answer.

The support comes even though large pluralities believe the primary reasons for the war were oil and Israel.

By a margin of 29 percent to nine percent, respondents say they would rather live under US rule than under Saddam -- even though they also say that their lives were better a year ago than they are today (47 percent to 32 percent). Optimism prevails: by 52 percent to 11 percent, they believe their lives will be better five years from now than they were under Saddam.

And by 75 percent to 14 percent, Baghdad residents say that Iraq is a more dangerous place today than it was before the invasion.

What this shows is that even if you believe we blundered into Iraq under false pretenses (and if you believe that, you would be correct), there is still more than a decent chance of salvaging this -- if we get about the business of restoring the country's shattered infrastructure and continue to turn power over to Iraqis.

Sometimes it's difficult to take the Fitzgeraldian view and hold two contradictory ideas at the same time. But we need to find a way to investigate the prevarications of the Bush administration while at the same time realizing that a significant number of Iraqis do see us as liberators, and are depending on our willingness to follow through.

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