The single most useful working definition of mental illness – doing the same thing over and over in expectation of a different result – will serve as a summary of the rearguard action taking place in the Iraq war.

Not the rearguard action in the actual war – allied troops disarming and in some cases firing on the Iraqi troops/police/militias that are meant to be replacing them – but that of the pundits who can’t believe that the West has not only lost, but created a disaster with no visible limit. The latest strategy, beloved of Christopher Hitchens, Euston Manifesto supremo Oliver Kamm, and Bush and Blair of course, is to argue that a quick or timetabled departure would be a fresh betrayal of the Iraqi people.

Now Michael Gawenda has weighed in with same thought.

The one voice that isn’t being listened to is that of the Iraqi people – strange because it is regularly available on iraqanalysis.com, a collation of all opinion polls being taken in the country.

The results of recent polls collected there show variously:

70% want a withdrawal of US troops within a year (September 2006). The same number believe continued occupation is making the situation worse.

This is up from 50% at the start of the year.

75% across the board support insurgency attacks against civilian troops, with 23% supporting it very strongly. This goes as high as 88% among Sunnis, but is at 41% even among Shias.

A 2005 poll say that fewer than 1% strongly believe that continued occupation is helping the country

The polls differ in magnitude, but they all go in the same direction – a rapid and announced withdrawal is the clearly expressed wish all over Iraq.

The only place you won’t hear it is in the desperate rearguard of the punditocracy.

Peter Fray

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