Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Poll on Iraqi Public Opinion

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Poll on Iraqi Public Opinion

Article excerpt

American Enterprise magazine unveiled the results of its recent poll on Iraqi public opinion at a Sept. 10 press conference at its offices in Washington, DC. The magazine is published by the American Enterprise Institute, the neoconservative think tank whose former trustees include Vice President Dick Cheney and Enron CEO Kenneth Lay.

American Enterprise editor-in-chief Karl Zinsmeister, who was embedded with the 82nd Airborne Division during the war on Iraq, said misconceptions about the situation in Iraq and the Iraqi people, largely perpetuated by the media, encouraged him to commission the poll. "We were surprised and puzzled by the disconnect of what we saw in Iraq and what was reported by the media," he said.

For example, Zinsmeister said, the April pilgrimages to holy sites that drew hundreds of thousands of Shi'i Iraqis were described in the U.S. media as anti-American. In reality, however, no such demonstrations occurred. "[The media's portrayal] did not match what I knew of the Shi'i people," he said.

Rather than rely on anecdotal evidence, Zinsmeister said he and his colleagues wanted to "seek harder, scientific information about what's really going on in the Iraqi mind." Pollster John Zogby conducted the poll with the help of 17 researchers, including Iraqi nationals. While Zinsmeister drafted the questions, Zogby developed the methodology to conduct the poll. The two also consulted Eastern European pollsters about conducting surveys in countries where people were not accustomed to expressing their true feelings about politics.

Both men said four Iraqi cities were carefully chosen to represent the diversity of the Iraqi people: Basra (Iraq's second largest city), Mosul (the provincial capital of northern Iraq and a city with Christian residents), Kirkuk (the center of Iraq's oil industry and home to a sizable Kurdish population), and Al Ramadi (a hotbed of resistance in the "Sunni triangle").

Before disclosing the specific findings of the poll, Zinsmeister said, "As the results of the poll will show, contrary to much of what we hear, the Iraqi public is more sensible, stable and sympathetic to the path that the U.S. has set up for itself."

Of the 600 Iraqis polled, nearly 70 percent believe their country and their personal lives will be better in five years. A majority (67 percent) said politics, not economics, is the most difficult aspect of rebuilding their nation. …

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