Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Worn-Out Welcome

From the Sun-Sentinel:

WASHINGTON — President Bush is fond of telling Americans they have liberated Iraq and that the country’s future generations will be thankful. The current generation, however, overwhelmingly views U.S. forces as occupiers and wishes they would just leave, according to a poll commissioned by the administration.

The poll, requested by the Coalition Provisional Authority last month but not released to the American public, found more than half of Iraqis surveyed believed both that they’d be safer without U.S. forces and that all Americans behave like the military prison guards pictured in the Abu Ghraib abuse photos.

The survey, obtained by The Associated Press, also found radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is surging in popularity as he leads an insurrection against U.S.-led forces, but would still be a distant finisher in an election for Iraqi president.

“If you are sitting here as part of the coalition, it (the poll) is pretty grim,” said Donald Hamilton, a career foreign service officer who is working for Ambassador Paul Bremer’s interim government and helps oversee the CPA’s polling of Iraqis.

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The poll was conducted by Iraqis in face-to-face interviews in six cities with people representative of the country’s various factions. Its results conflict with the generally upbeat assessments the administration continues to give Americans. Just last week, Bush predicted future generations of Iraqis “will come to America and say, thank goodness America stood the line and was strong and did not falter in the face of the violence of a few.”

The current generation seems eager for Americans to leave, the poll found.

The coalition’s confidence rating in May stood at 11 percent, down from 47 percent in November, while coalition forces had just 10 percent support. Ninety-two percent of the Iraqis said they considered coalition troops occupiers, while just 2 percent called them liberators.

What’s Arabic for “Don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass on your way out”?