Spin, spin, spin!

Recent poll results in Iraq were cited by Dick Cheney in that infamous Meet the Press interview of a little while ago. He claimed that the Iraqis were overall feeling very favourable towards the occupation. Now the pollster himself has spoken up to say that it was a load of spun crap, and the attitude is much worse.

For example, while Cheney noted that when asked what kind of government they would like, Iraqis chose “the US… hands down,” in fact, the results of the poll are actually quite different. Twenty-three percent of Iraqis say that they would like to model their new government after the US; 17.5 percent would like their model to be Saudi Arabia; 12 percent say Syria, 7 percent say Egypt and 37 percent say “none of the above.” That’s hardly “winning hands down.”

When given the choice as to whether they “would like to see the American and British forces leave Iraq in six months, one year, or two years,” 31.5 percent of Iraqis say these forces should leave in six months; 34 percent say a year, and only 25 percent say two or more years.

So while technically Cheney might say that “over 60 percent (actually it’s 59 percent) … want the US to stay at least another year,” an equally correct observation would be that 65.5 percent want the US and Britain to leave in one year or less.

Other numbers found in the poll go further to dampen the vice president’s and the AEI’s rosy interpretations. For example, when asked if “democracy can work well in Iraq,” 51 percent said “no; it is a Western way of doing things and will not work here.”

And attitudes toward the US were not positive. When asked whether over the next five years, they felt that the “US would help or hurt Iraq,” 50 percent said that the US would hurt Iraq, while only 35.5 percent felt the US would help the country. On the other hand, 61 percent of Iraqis felt that Saudi Arabia would help Iraq in the next five years, as opposed to only 7.5 percent, who felt Saudi Arabia would hurt their country. Some 50.5 percent felt that the United Nations would help Iraq, while 18.5 percent felt it would hurt. Iran’s rating was very close to the US’, with 53.5 percent of Iraqis saying Iran would hurt them in the next five years, while only 21.5 percent felt that Iran might help them.

The administration’s misuse of the numbers is really only to be expected, but it’s nice to see my skepticism about this poll was rewarded.