Afghan and Iraqi Polls

There is a poll just out in Iraq, which has some disturbing results in it.

47% think the war was right versus 53% who think it was wrong.
Back in 2004 the results were 49% versus 39%.

A whopping 59% think the US controls the country versus 34% who think the Iraqi government does.
Back in 2005 the results were 24% and 44% - ie totally reversed.

A whopping 78% oppose the presence of coalition forces. That means forget about bases. Get out as quickly as possible. Although thanks to the schizophrenic Iraqis, only 35% say they want the coalition to leave immediately, despite the fact that 69% think the security is worse with the US forces present. Honestly, we need to get out before we accidentally get into a war with the Iraqi people.

The Iraqis are evenly divided on whether it is OK to attack the people who brought them freedom! But the great news is that 88% disapprove of attacking the Iraqi government forces versus 12% who think it is acceptable. That's all we need. All we need is for the Iraqis to support their own forces. The coalition can get out faster than you can say "is it December 2007 yet?".

I hope that when the US forces have gone that people will stop thinking that they are being controlled by the US. I wonder if there is anything Maliki can do to let the people know that he is not being told what to do by the US? Although the Iraqis already acknowledge that the Iraqi security forces are in charge of security, so I'm not sure removing the US forces entirely will make any difference.

One good thing is that 94% think separation on sectarian lines is bad.

Another good thing is that there are no people refusing to answer the poll questions, so they obviously realise they are free to express their opinion.

Now compare all that to the polls in Afghanistan. From this one we find:

88% support the current government versus 3% supporting the Taliban.

88% versus 11% think it was good that the US arrived.

And only 5% support Osama Bin Laden.

And from this one we find:

87% trust the Afghan National Army

86% trust the Afghan National Police.

86% support equality regardless of gender/ethnicity/religion.

These are very positive numbers. I'm so glad that Afghanistan was liberated rather than nuked. We can work with these people. But we can't have permanent bases there either. Only 5% of the Afghans support that. Let's see if Iran is more open to that. But only after they've held elections without any US forces present. I don't think bases are particular important in these countries though. We can get air strikes in Iraq from either Kuwait or Turkey, and we can get air strikes in Afghanistan from Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan. More options would be nice, but not necessary, and we certainly don't want to force these people to do anything. It is extremely important to get out ASAP so that people know we're not invading any of these countries. That will give the subsequent countries that are liberated more confidence so that they know they can trust us and defect. It's a pity Iran needs to be liberated faster than we can get troops out of Afghanistan or Iraq, but that's the way the wars went.

Anyway, things could have been a hell of a lot worse than this. As it is, the essentials we need are already there, in both countries. They support their security forces and they voted in large numbers for their government. All we need to do is get out of their hair as soon as possible. No problem! We should train up locals with laser designators so that we don't even need to provide special forces, and they can instead call in air strikes from other countries. And the next step after that is setting them up with a minimal air force so that they can drop their own bombs. But they should still have the ability to call in US air strikes in case their own air force has been caught up in a military coup or something. It's all happening. The forces are nearly in place. Probably the locals should go overseas if they want the US or coalition to train them as well. Unless the polls change so that the locals are happy to have foreign troops in their country. But even if the local government wants the troops but the local people don't, I think we need to seek alternate arrangements. We can't risk sparking a pointless war with the locals when we're not trying to force them to do anything.

P.S. Afghan and Iraqi polls can now be found here.

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