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Iraqi Hope And Democratic Deafness

Iraq data continues to stack up against the Democrats’ mission to draw down troops and leave. A recent Pew poll showed that 53 percent of Americans believe we will win in Iraq. But more compelling still is this new ABC poll which demonstrates the changing attitudes of Iraqis themselves.

The proportion of Iraqis who say the U.S. invasion was right is at an all-time high of 49 percent—up twelve points since August. Unlike other shifting metrics, such as the dropping casualty rate, this number can’t be used to mount a “so, we’re just back at the disastrous levels of two years ago” argument. A new high isn’t a step backwards to anything, and this one finds almost half of Iraq praising U.S. policy. Also, keep in mind what John Burns pointed out in his New York Times piece this Sunday: Iraqis probably under-report when it comes to pro-U.S. opinions.

But how do they feel about their own country? Fifty-five percent of Iraqis now say their own lives are going well. This is a sixteen point gain since August. Sixty-two percent say local security is good—a 19-point jump, and 46 percent say they expect Iraq to be better in a year; that’s a gain of twenty-three points. The big story is that negativity is drying up. The poll report notes that, “the 35-point drop in views that security is worsening is the single largest change in this poll.”

Of course there are ongoing challenges, which speak to the need for America’s commitment. If everything was rosy, we could indeed leave. So: while we’re winning their hearts and changing their minds, what kind of policy would call for abandoning an Iraq on the verge revolutionary improvement?

Why, the Democratic one. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton delivered a speech in which she said, “I have concrete detailed plans to end this war, and I have not wavered in my commitment to follow through on them.” One of the main Democratic criticisms of George Bush is that he’s unable to change or reverse policy better to suit a situation in flux. Has Hillary decided to imitate his much-derided “intransigence”?