Monday, May 08, 2006


This morning I had a wander over to Cif and found: Andrew Murray - "Unwanted, unloved and achieving nothing".

No, not the title of his autobiography, but the same old same old about getting our troops out of Iraq, following this weekend's events in Basra.

He writes:
Whatever may be obscure about this particular incident, it seems clear that the downing of the British helicopter was widely welcomed by the people of Basra, who demonstrated in celebration and attacked British troops sent out on a rescue mission.

Thus the streets confirm the results of an opinion poll conducted for the Ministry of Defence itself, which revealed that in British-occupied southern Iraq only 1% of the population regard the military occupation as helping Iraq, and up to two-thirds (depending on province) believe attacks on the occupying troops are legitimate; some 82% were "strongly opposed" to the presence of British troops.
If this had happened last year, Andrew Murray might have a point. But the poll he cites was taken six months ago, well before the recent elections. Is Mr Murray perhaps being a little selective in his choice of poll to support his argument.

Simply put: yes.

Here's a PIPA poll published the day after those historic elections. Regulars will know this study inside out, but those who continually recycle the memes of Murray, Galloway, German et al. ought to take a look.

We find:
  • 68% believe the new government of Iraq will be "the legitimate representative of the Iraqi people." Contrast this with all the talk of "puppet regimes" emanating from the Stopper camp.

  • 64% believe the country is going in the right direction and even taking "any hardships [they] might have suffered since the US-Britain invasion" into account, 77% of Iraqis believe ousting Saddam was worth it. This figure rises to 98% for Shia and 91% for Kurds. Although they weren't polled, this figure falls to 0% for members of the Stop the War Coalition.

  • Over half of all Iraqis polled disapprove of attacks on US-led forces. Murray's "depending on province" caveat is key here, as the figure is worryingly high for Sunnis (88%) but falls to 16% for Kurds. Oddly, of the 43% who do support such attacks, only 41% want to see the US leave by August - things are a little more complicated in Iraq than Murray makes out.

  • Despite the unpopularity of the Coalition's presence, 59% of Iraqis don't think that their own security forces will be up to the job by August. Unlike Murray, the majority of Iraqis don't favour a "Troops Home Now!" approach.
Thus, when Murray writes:
It should be clear by now that anyone shooting at British and US soldiers is going to enjoy popular approval whatever flag they fly, just by virtue of opposing the occupation.

So it is clear more than ever that the British presence in Basra is unloved, unwanted and achieving nothing beyond extending political cover by giving a multinational gloss to George Bush's broader military occupation of Iraq.
he is being disingenuous. In fact, it is far from "clear", as the contradictory results of the PIPA poll show. Here's how the latter explained their findings:
Thus, the presence of US troops may be perceived as an unwelcome presence that produces many undesirable side effects, but is still necessary for a period.
The idea that the United States might actually be doing something useful in Iraq seems to be inconceivable to Murray and his "It's neocolonialist imperialism, stupid!" school of thought.

But perhaps that shouldn't be too surprising. After all, this is the man who wrote:
The drive to seize command of the world economy in the interests of its own monopoly groups now propels the US government to seek to seize command of every corner of the world itself. This does not need any amplification in relation to the Middle East at present. But we should also be alert to the very real dangers in the Fareast and around Peoples Korea. The clear desire of the USA to effect ‘regime change’ in its second ‘axis of evil’ target could well provoke an armed clash there, too. Our Party has already made its basic position of solidarity with Peoples Korea clear.
Presumably that was via the Gorgeous One, who stated:
If it comes to invasion of North Korea, I'll be with North Korea.
They sure know how to pick their friends.


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