March 16, 2004


A year after the bombs began to fall, Iraqis express ambivalence about the U.S.-led invasion of their country, but not about its effect: Most say their lives are going well and have improved since before the war, and expectations for the future are very high.

Worries exist locally about joblessness, nationally about security boosting desires for a "single strong leader," at least in the short term. Yet the first media-sponsored national public opinion poll in Iraq also finds a strikingly optimistic people, expressing growing interest in politics, broad rejection of political violence, rising trust in the Iraqi police and army and preference for an inclusive and democratic government. . . .

On a personal level, seven in 10 Iraqis say things overall are going well for them a result that might surprise outsiders imagining the worst of life in Iraq today. Fifty-six percent say their lives are better now than before the war, compared with 19 percent who say things are worse (23 percent, the same). And the level of personal optimism is extraordinary: Seventy-one percent expect their lives to improve over the next year. . . .

Iraqis divide in their rating of the local security situation now, but strikingly, 54 percent say security where they live is better now than it was before the war.

Read the whole thing. Doesn't sound like the "huge disaster" that Spain's new Socialist Prime Minister, Jose Zapatero, calls it.

Begging to Differ has more thoughts, and points out, correctly, that it's not all good news. No, it's just a lot better news than you'd think based on, er, the news.

UPDATE: More here. And Jeff Jarvis has some observations.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This Michael Barone column is worth reading, too.