Thursday, May 01, 2008

What the [US] Public Really Wants on Iraq

What the Public Really Wants on Iraq: Ruy Teixeira examines polling data to determine what the US public thinks about the war on its fifth anniversay:

The public made up its mind on Iraq quite a while ago, and the surge has had no effect whatsoever on the public’s basic verdict on the war. They believe that the war has been a huge mistake and that we should move expeditiously to remove U.S. troops from Iraq and end the conflict.... The Iraq war, in the public’s view, has been a mistake, with the costs of the war far exceeding its benefits.

Two comments:

1. The questions are phrased strictly in terms of cost/benefit to the United States. The US public is not asked, for example, if it thinks the war was 'legitimate self-defence' or a 'war of aggression.' If it thinks the war is illegal and criminal, the public is not asked if those responsible for it should be prosecuted. It is not asked whether the war benefits Iraqis, or has destroyed them (for example, killing over one million people). This perhaps reflects who is conducting the polls and for what purpose. Chomsky has remarked that the US public is extensively polled so that the rulers do know what they think. Public opinion is then a problem which needs to be managed with public relations and propaganda.

2. The public's view is not reflected in the political system. The Democrats have taken advantage of the public's views to win Congressional seats and perhaps the Whitehouse later this year, but have taken no action to end the war, ie they have not defunded the war or impeached the people responsible.

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