Galluping Toward Democracy


Randy Barnett at Volokh is trumpeting a new AEI/Zoby poll with what appears to be good news about Iraqi public opinion. Happy as I am to see any positive signs coming out of Iraq, a couple of don't-break-out-the-champagne-yet observations.

First, I recall Iraqi public opinion not so long ago showing 100 percent support for Saddam Hussein. Yes, yes, I know, our "not occupying, just visiting" forces would never dream of putting any pressure on people with the wrong opinions. But even if they wouldn't… do the people being polled fully appreciate that after a few decades of repression? Telling the man with the clipboard what you think he wants to hear is probably a habit that dies hard.

Second, even if we think the info's accurate, the persistent problem in this part of the world is precisely that majority opinion tends not to be decisive. That 100 percent figure from the Bad Old Days notwithstanding, I rather doubt Saddam was a big hit with the Shi'a majority… with that much oil, at the end of the day, you don't have to be. So I'm actually less interested in the good majority answers than I am in the level of fanaticism (and weapons ownership) of the minority that gave the bad answers.