Sullivan tries to buttress his pro-Iraq war stand by citing this column from today's Times of London. In the column, David Aaronovitch points to a recent poll of the Iraqi people:
Iraqis themselves, in a large poll released yesterday, believe that things are bad in their country: 53 percent took a negative view of the situation, compared with 44 percent who were optimists. Half now thought the invasion had been a bad idea.But Aaronovitch insists other results from this same poll show things aren't so bad after all. He cites the following:
The same number now wanted rule by a single, strong leader and only 28 percent thought democracy more important. One quarter had confidence in Iraq’s politicians, while two thirds trusted its religious leaders and army.
... 71 per cent of Iraqis said things were currently good in their personal lives, while 29 percent said they were bad. 69 percent expected the situation in Iraq to improve, while 11 percent said it would worsen. And asked about what Iraq would need in five years’ time, support for the strong leader fell to 31 percent and for democracy rose to 45 percent.Okay, fair enough. The Iraqi people's support for an all-powerful leader does appear to be based largely on their current frustration that conditions in Iraq remain violent and chaotic. But what will happen to those 31-to-45 numbers if the domestic turmoil continues in Iraq?
The fact that we can't get a majority of Iraqis to say they yearn for democracy right now or in five years should not please America (or Sullivan). How does this square with Colin Powell's pronouncement last year that "the Iraqi people want democracy, deserve democracy, and we're going to help them achieve that goal of having a democracy"?
And the 69 percent result suggests that Iraqis are a hopeful people. But that means very little unless the U.S. can do more to stabilize the country.