- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2003

The war in Iraq has been worth the hardship, according to those who have lived through both.

Despite continued violence and few basic amenities, 62 percent of Baghdad residents believe the ousting of Saddam Hussein justified “any hardships they might have personally suffered,” according to a Gallup poll released yesterday.

Gallup went to the source, conducting face-to-face, 70-minute private interviews with more than 1,000 eager respondents in their homes three weeks ago. The cooperation rate was more than 97 percent, Gallup said, categorizing the poll as “the first rigorous and scientifically conducted sampling of public sentiment in Iraq.”

The numbers also revealed growing hope and confidence among Baghdad residents, though almost all felt their city had become more dangerous in recent months.

While one in three say postwar Iraq is better off now, 67 percent believe their country will be far improved in five years.

“American effort is only going to work if Iraqis buy into it,” Gallup International poll director Richard Burkholder said yesterday. “That’s why the good faith and optimism of the citizens are so important.”

Another 36 percent had favorable views of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, with 43 percent giving it a “middling” rating, according to the poll. In addition, 50 percent said the authority was doing a better job than it did two months ago

“CPA administrator Paul Bremer is well thought of personally,” the poll stated, noting that Mr. Bremer had received a 47 percent favorability rating.

The new 25-member Iraqi Governing Council won approval: It was viewed positively by 61 percent of Baghdad’s residents, with a quarter saying their impression was “very favorable.”

The good feelings fade, however, on a more global scale.

Only 29 percent of those polled had a positive view of the United States, while 24 percent had a positive view of Britain, “which ruled Iraq as a mandate until the country was granted independence in 1932,” the poll noted.

Though France vigorously opposed the Iraq war, it won more Iraqi admirers than the two liberators: 55 percent had a positive view of the French.

Resentment of new authority may linger as well: 75 percent of the Baghdadis believe that policies and decisions made by their local governing council are “mostly determined” by the British and Americans.

The Gallup poll of 1,178 Baghdad adults was conducted from Aug. 28 to Sept. 4.

Americans, meanwhile, have their own ideas about Iraq.

A Pew Research survey also released yesterday found that 63 percent of Americans thought the use of military force in Iraq was the “right decision,” while 62 percent said the effort was going “very well” or “fairly well.”

Fifty-one percent said Mr. Bush took the appropriate action at the right time, and 54 percent said the war helped the fight against terrorism. More than three-quarters — 79 percent — thought the Iraqis “are happy Saddam had been removed,” though 47 percent said the Iraqis probably opposed American policies in their country.

But 11 percent believed the United States had done a poor job addressing the “interests and needs of the Iraqi people.”

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