The lack of critical media coverage at the beginning of the Iraq War is widely acknowledged. But the media’s failure to cover Iraqi voices of opposition is arguably a greater default.
The mainstream media convey the impression that there are two categories of Iraqis–the handful of fanatical jihadist terrorists and the majority who showed their yearning to be free during January’s election. In this paradigm, our troops are seen as defending, even cultivating, a nascent democracy. Not surprisingly, a Fox News poll in February revealed that 53 percent of Americans believed the Iraqis wanted our troops to stay while only 35 percent thought the Iraqis wanted us to leave.
To a public fed this distorted narrative and nothing more, the actual facts may be too jarring to believe. There has been little or no coverage of these realities:
§ A majority of Iraqis in polls favor US military withdrawal and an end of the occupation. At the time of January’s election, 69 percent of Shiites and 82 percent of Sunnis favored “near-term withdrawal.” Surveys done for the Coalition Provisional Authority in June 2004 showed that a 55 percent majority “would feel safer if US troops left immediately.”
§ A recent summary of numerous Iraqi surveys, by the independent Project on Defense Alternatives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, concluded that a majority of Iraqis “oppose the US presence in Iraq, and those who strongly oppose it greatly outnumber those who strongly support it.” The PDA report went on to say that “the fact that [these surveys] have played little role in the public discourse on the Iraqi mission imperils US policy and contributes to the present impasse.”
§ The only Iraqis who strongly support the US occupation are the Kurds, less than 20 percent of the population whose semi-autonomous status is protected by the United States, and who are represented disproportionately in the Iraqi regime. By backing the Kurds and southern Shiites, the United States is intervening in a sectarian civil war. The US-trained Iraqi security forces are dominated by Kurdish and Shiite militias.
§ In mid-September of this year, the eighteen-member National Sovereignty Committee in the US-sponsored Iraqi parliament issued a unanimous report calling for the end of occupation.
§ In June, more than 100 members of the same parliament, or more than one-third, signed a letter calling for “the departure of the occupation.” They criticized their regime for bypassing parliament in obtaining an extension of authority from the United Nations Security Council.