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"You have liberated a people"

This post has been updated.

The article "You have liberated a people" by John Hopkins scholar Fouad Ajami is about Americans in Iraq, but it has real relevance from a British point of view. First, because British soldiers joined Americans and allies in Iraq.

Second, because its views are so very different from the BBC/ABC/NHK poll taken in August, and released on the eve of Congressional testimony on the surge and the new counterinsurgency strategy by General Petraeus.

Whom to believe?

One aspect of the poll is that it does not state how many of its 2,000 respondents were minority Sunni and how many were Shia, though religious affiliation is fundamental to the conflict in Iraq and to opinions about its future. The poll was organized along "regional divides", but the published report fails to state how many people were interviewed in Baghdad, how many in the Kurdish north, etc.

Is it too soon to ask whether the surge is working? The BBC never addresses this essential question. General Petraeus has just reported to the US Congress that the military surge is working, and that military and civilian deaths are down, but the political surge, the social surge that will make a difference to war-weary Iraqis, is bound to be lagging behind the military surge.

The BBC has long said that Iraq is an unredeemable shambles where nothing is working. Only one thing apparently does work - its ability to take a scientific poll that reflects its editorial opinions.

ABC News was also a sponsor of this poll, which has been repeatedly used as a bludgeon by Congressional Democrats making speeches to General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. How interesting, then, to learn that ABC still refuses to release on DVD "The Path to 9/11", the documentary that won seven Emmy nominations and 28 million viewers last year with its devastating critique of intelligence failures and both the Clinton and Bush administrations. ABC/Disney is apparently concerned about its effect on the Hillary Clinton campaign. Their deafening silence on releasing the DVD contrasts tellingly with their sponsorship of this poll. (Report in WSJ print edition, 9-11-07)

My belief is that there is unfinished work in Iraq. American, British, and allied soldiers who have died in Iraq will not be forgotten and they have not died in vain.