The big news today is the release of the latest poll results
to come out of Iraq. As the BBC's Paul Reynolds notes
, the results reflect a rather different story than the one we are used to hearing from the MSM.
The latest survey of opinion in Iraq shows a degree of optimism at variance with the usual depiction of the country as one in total chaos.
The figures will provide evidence for supporters of the invasion and occupation to argue that the international media have got it wrong - that, despite everything, most Iraqis are wedded to a democratic future in a unified state and have faith it will come.
Indeed they do. The attitudes of Iraqis towards both their own individual circumstances and the future prospects of the country are both overwhelmingly positive. But Reynolds goes on to show that he knows his colleagues at the BBC only too well.
However critics will claim that the survey proves little beyond showing how resilient Iraqis are at a local level. They will argue that it reveals enough important exceptions to the rosy assessment, especially in the centre of the country, to indicate serious dissatisfaction.
And sure enough, along comes the BBC's relentlessy pessimistic John Simpson to prove Reynolds correct
, trying to convince us that despite the poll results:
Things have changed radically in Baghdad since March last year - and not for the better.
Nevermind the 70+% of Iraqis who say that things in their life are going either quite good or very good. Despite the fact that Simpson admits that he doesn't stay in any one place for more than a few minutes, he apparently knows better than than the Iraqis who do.
Perhaps recognizing that readers are less likely to believe him than Iraqis themselves, Simpson does make an effort to portray the Iraqis as agreeing with him.
No wonder, then, that the people whose views are reflected in the new
opinion poll are so obsessed with the need for security.
Indeed. I suppose that "obsession" explains why, when asked "What is the single biggest problem you are facing in your life today?", terrorist attacks ranked, um, 8th with 2.2% of the responses, behind things like "personal problems". And also why, when asked how they would rate the security situation in their own village/neighborhood, fully 61% rated it as either "very good" or "quite good". And also why, when asked to compare the security situation now to that prior to the war in 2003, 44% said it was either "somewhat" or "much" better now, as opposed to 38% who said it was worse. That's quite an "obsession".
Simpson also helpfully points out that:
Given that the Shia-dominated government which has been in power for most of 2005 has been so unable to provide [security], it's not surprising the great majority of people told our pollsters they wanted strong government more than anything
More surprising if one believes Simpson's portrayal of things - so surprising, in fact, that Simpson decided not to tell his audience about it - is the fact that, when asked how well the current government had carried out its responsibilities, 61% of respondents thought it was doing either a "very good job" or "quite a good job".
There may indeed be obsessions in Iraq, but a review of his articles suggests that any such obsessions belong to Simpson himself, and not Iraqis. When he cannot ignore the good news coming out of Iraq, he is relentlessy trying to spin it as bad news. Given his belief that the primary battleground in the war for Iraq is over public opinion, it remains difficult for me to conclude anything other than that Simpson is doing his best to shift that battleground in favor of the enemy.