'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rejectionists and the British Poll 

In his most recent Iraq speech, Bush stuck to the characterization of the Iraqi insurgency that began to creep into his public statements sometime last summer: he admitted that the insurgency is not comprised entirely of terrorists. This time around there are "rejectionists", "Saddamists", and "terrorists".

Rejectionists are defined as follows:

The rejectionists are ordinary Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs who miss the privileged status they had under the regime of Saddam Hussein. They reject an Iraq in which they are no longer the dominant group.

I think his speech writers did a nice job on this one. If Bush has to mention non-terrorist insurgents -- and, lord knows, he has to ... the US has been regularly negotiating with insurgent groups for something like a year now-- have him imply that they are just a bunch of sour grapes.

Now here's the thing ... it's well-known that terrorists and foreign fighters make up a relatively minor portion of the insurgency as a whole; therefore, since most of the insurgency is composed of these non-terrorist insurgents, according to Bush's speech writers it follows that the goal of most insurgents is a return to Sunni dominance of Iraq. If this is the case then why do 65% of Iraqis support insurgent attacks on Iraq's occupiers, given that Sunnis make up only, I think, 20% of Iraq's population?

For the 65% figure I am citing a secret poll conducted by the British military, the leaking of which was the biggest under-reported story of October. Here's The Sunday Telegraph

Millions of Iraqis believe that suicide attacks against British troops are justified, a secret military poll commissioned by senior officers has revealed.

The poll, undertaken for the Ministry of Defence and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, shows that up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country.

Andrew Robathan: Government policy 'disastrous'
It demonstrates for the first time the true strength of anti-Western feeling in Iraq after more than two and a half years of bloody occupation.

The nationwide survey also suggests that the coalition has lost the battle to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, which Tony Blair and George W Bush believed was fundamental to creating a safe and secure country. [ ... ]

o Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;

o 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;

o less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;

o 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;

o 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;

o 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.

In other secret-British-poll-related news, as Juan Cole points out, Howard Dean just cited the 80% "strongly opposed" figure in his recent we-can't-win-in-Iraq speech, which led to this amusing exchange with RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman:

Host: "Well I think what's interesting also to add here, Ken, is that John Kerry also came out after the President's speech the other day and what he said was we don't want to redeploy; we don't want to get the troops; we just want to have a time frame for victory. So, again, in the Democratic party itself, there are varying answers. I want to throw this at you because Howard Dean brought this up yesterday, that 80 percent of the Iraqis want us out. And I asked him what is the source of that? Who exactly did the survey? Who did the poll and who exactly did they ask? And he didn't have an answer. Have you seen this poll that shows that 80 percent of the Iraqis want us out?"

Ken Mehlman: "No, not at all. I've seen polling that shows something very different, in fact, and that is that Iraqis increasingly understand and believe that they need their country is heading in the right, not the wrong, direction. They're optimistic about the future in a way they haven't been. ... Fundamentally it comes down to this. Do you believe this in the war on terror is victory versus defeat has a huge consequence for American security? Answer is unquestionably yes."

Deal with a piece of inconvenient data by claiming that it doesn't exist -- I think this strategy could really go places for the Republicans... uh, wait, I guess it already has...

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