Cutting through the bullshit.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Higher education

A telephone survey conducted 30 May to 3 June by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press of a sample of 1503 American adults reveals that 51% now think ‘the U.S. made the wrong decision in using military force against Iraq’. Fifty-six percent ‘think the U.S. should bring its troops home as soon as possible’, which is comparable to the 55% who want the number reduced reported in the Washington Post-ABC News Poll about the same time. But while only 15% in the WP-ABC poll wanted troops removed immediately, 20% gave that response in the Pew poll.

Interestingly, every population separately tabulated has shown a significant increase in the proportion saying bring the troops home since June 2006. Even 29% of identified Republicans held this view, an increase of six percentage points in the last year. Apart from Republicans, every population but three had a majority favouring withdrawal. Pluralities of 49% of both men and White Evengelical Protestants wanted the troops out, with 46% and 45% saying they should stay in Iraq. The only population with a plurality that favoured keeping troops in Iraq was College graduates – 46% said bring them home, 48% said let them stay. Fifty-two percent of those with ‘some college’ and 64% of those with ‘High School or less’ wanted the troops out.

In a rather more disturbing development, 49% of the half sample asked whether ‘the United States has a responsibility to do something about the ethnic genocide in Darfur’ said it did, while 45% of the other half favoured ‘the use of U.S. troops in Darfur as part of a multinational force to help end the ethnic genocide there’.

What’s truly appalling is the wording of the question. It certainly does not go without saying that what’s going on in Darfur is ‘ethnic genocide’ and there is an interesting argument about this on lenin’s tomb. The argument revolves around the issue of whether it is in fact genocide and more significantly whether the characterisation of the situation in Dafur as genocide is a diversion from Iraq. Given the leading question, though, it’s disturbing that less than half think ‘something must be done’ – 34% said it’s not the US’s responsibility and 37% opposed sending troops. It’s also disturbing that even after all the blatant lying and scandals and corruption and cronyism and stolen elections and the completely unjustified decimation of Iraq, that a majority say was wrong, so many American adults still think that the US, and even US troops, can act as a force for good and rescue the suffering Fur. It’s as if they’ve forgotten Somalia and so many other US ‘humanitarian interventions’. Perhaps the large number of refusals – 17% and 18% - are an encouraging sign.

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