Washington Post writers Thomas E. Ricks and Anthony Shadid accompanied a US Army unit on a patrol thru a section of Baghdad. One reporter stayed with the troops and the other (probably Shadid but they do not say) tagged behind asking the Iraqis what they thought of the US miliitary presence. None of the soldiers on the patrol speak Arabic and therefore can form their opinions of what the Iraqis think only from facial expressions and visible actions. There is a gap between the solders' perceptions and the reality of Iraqi views.
Haumschild's evaluation: "Maybe 10 percent are hostile. About 50 percent friendly. About 40 percent are indifferent."
Residents gave different numbers -- at best, 50-50, and at worst, a significant majority holding hostile views. Sentiments often broke down along the religious cleavages that mark Iraq. Shiite residents hailed the Americans for ending Hussein's rule, which was particularly brutal toward their sect. They suspect the Baath Party lingers, ready to reemerge.
"An American dog is better than Saddam and his gangs," said Alaa Rudeini, as he chatted with a friend, Abdel-Razaq Abbas, along the sidewalk.
The language gap is a serious problem. It would make a lot of sense to send someone fluent in Arabic along with each patrol. They'd learn a lot more from the patrols and also could adjust their behavior to avoid giving offense unnecessarily.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 June 03 11:54 AM MidEast Iraq Opinion Polls|