Iraqis trust America like Americans trust foreigners; poll results

Sunday, February 05, 2006 at 04:24 PM

"In order to sell a product or a service, a company must establish a relationship with the consumer. It must build trust and rapport. It must understand the customer's needs, and it must provide a product that delivers the promised benefits."
Jay Levinson, author and advertising expert.

America has never really been that fond of foreigners.  Every wave of immigration brought dire warnings of disastrous effects for the country, and today there is such antipathy to the United Nations that John Bolton can be made UN Ambassador without riots in the streets.

Yet Americans always seem surprised when some other nation views us--foreigners to them--in the same suspicious light.

Which is all a way of saying that, if the quote at the beginning of this piece is true, we have a hell of a long uphill battle to sell Iraqis on our intentions, which probably means we have a long haul on selling them on our idea of democracy.

An Editor & Publisher piece details the results of a newly released opinion poll of Iraqis.  What I see as a main point:  80% of Iraqis think the United States plans to maintain permanent bases in the country even if the newly-elected Iraqi government asks us to leave.  Other points:

--47% of Iraqis approved of attacks on U.S.-led forces, but 93% opposed such attacks on Iraqi forces

--by sect, attacks on Americans were approved by 88% of Sunni Muslims, 41% of Shiite Muslims, and 16% of Kurds

--70% of Iraqis favor setting a timetable for U.S. forces to withdraw, divided evenly between those who want withdrawal within six months and those who would allow two years; a majority expect the new Iraqi government to call for a pullout.

The entity that conducted the poll, the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), concludes that "The major source of urgency for withdrawal is the feeling, especially among Sunnis, that it is offensive for their country to be occupied. A secondary reason is that US forces attract more attacks and make the violence worse."