I was going to cut video of Bush’s speech this morning but it’s the same old song and people seemed to like that post I wrote about the Iraq poll over the weekend, so how about we mark the fourth anniversary with a little number-scanning instead? The data comes from the new ABC/BBC poll of Iraqis published today. I’m going to highlight some of the key results here, but I recommend flipping through it all. One thing these questions won’t show is how bad the trend is since November 2005 — and how good the trend was then since 2004. The numbers were up across the board; then came the Samarra bombing last February and everything lunged. If we’d been able somehow to stop those rat bastards before they did it, the country might look different now.
Anyway, let’s start with the sample. What’s wrong with this picture?
It oversamples Sunni Arabs. Wildly. The weekend poll oversampled them too, but only a bit. This one more than doubles their actual strength in the country, which is only 10 to 15% according to best estimates. The numbers for the Kurds are about right, so this is all coming at the expense of Shiites. Bear that in mind as we go forward, because as you’ll see, the difference between Sunni and Shiite opinion on some key questions can reach 90%.
Here’s the big one.
Considering that Shiite Arabs and Sunni Kurds make up 85-90% of the population, that’s not a bad result at all. But look at the net totals, driven down by the unbelievably sour attitudes of Sunnis and the poll’s oversampling. 85% of the country approves of the invasion (to a greater or lesser extent) by 70+%, and yet somehow we’ve ended up with a clear majority who are opposed. Same thing here:
Support in excess of 68% for the Iraqi government among a super-supermajority of the population, and yet the net is negative.
Now here’s the other big result — but before I give it to you, first I’m going to show you a string of results about the U.S. troop presence. This is one of the few policy-related data sets where Sunnis and Shiites (but not Kurds) aren’t so far apart.
The trend in that last question is ghastly (but not surprising), as is the 94% figure for Sunnis. In fact, Questions 25 and 28 would seem to suggest bipartisan support for an American withdrawal. Right?
Even now, the most support for an immediate pullout that the Shiites can muster — even with 60-65% of the population and control of the government and the Iraqi Army — is 28%. How that squares with the results of Questions 25 and (in particular) 28, I have no idea.
Some odds and ends. How bad is the violence? Bad:
That’s not the same question as the weekend poll, which asked specifically about murder and didn’t limit it to “immediate” family members. I tried to extrapolate a guesstimate of the total death toll from the numbers in that post, but I think it’s impossible given the differences between what “family” means in Arab cultures versus our own. I’m surprised, though, to see even the Kurdish numbers as high as 7%. Presumably a lot of that is happening in Kirkuk, where attacks by Arabs are on the uptick as the Kurds angle to annex it; Kurdistan proper is practically an oasis, as Michael Totten’s latest post makes vividly clear.
This is also surprising:
Needless to say, that’s a lot of people leaving. That 12% who claim to have actual plans to leave breaks out to fully three million people. And again, 8% of Kurds? Why? The only explanation I can think of is that they’re afraid Turkey is going to attack as Kurdistan becomes more prosperous and independent and they want to get out while they can.
More. We are not what one would call “popular”…
…but neither is Iran. Even among Shiites, a plurality thinks they’re a negative influence. That’s all to the good, but with the British withdrawing from the south Iran will increase its influence and start to provide security and social services. So that 40% is a soft 40 unless we do something to firm it up, which is unlikely. The numbers are worrisome here, too:
Those are responses to the question of which system of governance will be best for Iraq five years from now. The Sunni support for a dictator will/should soften once there’s more security and they realize that any new strongman probably wouldn’t hail from their own sect. The fact that 37% of Shiites already support Iranian-style rule by shari’a is bad news, though. Iraqslogger reports that Iyad Allawi is working backroom channels to bring down Maliki, which, if successful, would mean a shift towards a more secular government and away from the Sadrists. Probably for the best, notwithstanding Maliki’s current popular support.
This is supremely encouraging, though:
Again, a Kurdish surprise. Why would 22% support sectarianism? Maybe they figure if the Sunnis and Shiites are at each other’s throats, they’ll keep their hands off Kurdistan.
The Shiites numbers are probably explained by the fact that so many live in the south, which is homogeneous by sect. There’s a civil war in Baghdad, perhaps, but in Basra they just don’t see it.
I leave you with Hitchens, who’s commemorating the invasion by asking and answering his own questions, Dean Barnett style. His conclusion:
So, you seriously mean to say that we would not be living in a better or safer world if the coalition forces had turned around and sailed or flown home in the spring of 2003?
That’s exactly what I mean to say.