Sep
12
2011

NYT Still Finding the Pro-Occupation Iraqi Public

Over the course of the Iraq War, many U.S. media outlets have managed to misconstrue Iraqi public opinion about the presence of U.S. troops. As early as 2004, as FAIR (6/2/04) pointed out, research showed that the Iraqi public wanted U.S. troops out:

According to a new poll from the Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies, which is partly funded by the State Department and has coordinated its work with the Coalition Provisional Authority, more than half of all Iraqis–including the Kurds–want an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces, up from 17 percent last October.

But prominent media outlets didn't want to believe this. As John Burns of the New York Times explained:

Opinion polls, including those commissioned by the American command, have long suggested that a majority of Iraqis would like American troops withdrawn, but another lesson to be drawn from Saddam Hussein's years is that any attempt to measure opinion in Iraq is fatally skewed by intimidation. More often than not, people tell pollsters and reporters what they think is safe, not necessarily what they believe. My own experience, invariably, was that Iraqis I met who felt secure enough to speak with candor had an overwhelming desire to see American troops remain long enough to restore stability.

Turn to yesterday's Times (9/11/11), and you saw this headline:

Many Iraqis Have Second Thoughts as U.S. Exit Nears


The article, by Michael Schmidt, doesn't given any sense of a shift in the broad opposition to the U.S. occupation. Instead, it's mostly an attempt–like others before it, documented in this piece in Extra! by Dahr Jamail–by the Times to convince readers that a series of anecdotes and interviews give a better measure of Iraqi opinion:

Though Iraqis have called for Americans to leave from the start of the occupation in 2003, the prospect of such a drastic drawdown, from the 48,000 troops here now, has revealed another side of the Iraqi psyche. This is a nation that distrusts itself, with little faith in the government's own security forces or political leaders. It is as if people here never actually believed that the United States would leave, so all along demands for a pullout were never carefully weighed against the potential fallout.

So the "Iraqi psyche" doesn't really trust Iraqis and never thought about what would happen in the event of a "drastic drawdown" of U.S. troops a mere eight years after the occupation began.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.