POLL OF IRAQI CITIZENS SHOW THEY DO NOT BELIEVE THEIR LIVES ARE GOING WELL SINCE U.S. INVASION.
Senator Fumo's Speech on the Floor of the Senate, March 26, 2007
Last week marked the four-year anniversary of our invasion of Iraq. It is now well documented that a large majority of Americans have decided that the war is a mistake. They recognize that the Bush Administration has managed it poorly. And they know that our foreign intelligence experts almost unanimously believe it has made us less safe against terrorism, because it has created a new training ground for al Qaeda, and has fostered hatred for America in the Arab world, even in some nations where we once enjoyed substantial good will in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.
Americans are also filled with remorse and disgust over the 3,241 U.S. soldiers whose lives have been sacrificed, and the 23,417 who have been wounded, in this sad misadventure. All of that is well known here in this country, and it is reflected in the opinion polls that lean so strongly against this war.
So in marking the four-year anniversary of the war this month, I would like us to spend a few moments today thinking about another group of people for whom this war has been costly, often in a horrifying way. Our invasion has rained misery down on a population that we were supposedly trying to help – the average Iraqi citizenry.
Four years after the invasion, USA TODAY, ABC News, the British Broadcasting Corp. and ARD, a German TV network, surveyed 2,212 Iraqis. The findings were reported in several news articles, and I want to present some them for the record on this floor today, because they paint a sobering picture of what we have done to their country.
Six in 10 Iraqis say their lives are going badly, and only one-third expect things to improve in the next year.
Of the 429 Baghdad residents surveyed, no one felt safe in his or her own neighborhood. Everyone interviewed in the capital said he or she often avoided even going outside because of violence.
Across the country, Iraqis say the basics of day-to-day living have deteriorated. On each of 13 aspects of life-- from security to the availability of cooking fuel and medical care -- a majority rated conditions as bad.
In the poll, most Iraqis say they have altered their daily routines to accommodate the realities of violence. More than two-thirds are careful about what they say about themselves to other people. Fifty-five percent try to avoid passing public buildings, often the target of suicide bombers; and fifty-four percent stay away from markets and crowded areas.
Four years of upheaval have taken a toll on Iraqis' mental health. Three in four say they have feelings of anger and depression, trouble sleeping and difficulty concentrating on work.
Four in 10 report kidnappings for ransom in their neighborhoods. Three in 10 have had car bombs explode or snipers' crossfire erupt close to home.
More than one in six Iraqis say someone in their own household has been physically harmed by violence, and nearly half have a close friend or immediate family member who has been injured.
Seven of 10 Sunnis predict that their children's lives will be worse.
Some Iraqis say they regret having borne children to be brought up amid such hardship. Three in 10 say they would move to another country if they could, and half of those are actually making plans to do so.
Although Iraqis by 43 percent to 36 percent said life was better than before the invasion, it is noteworthy that less than half the population believes it – hardly an endorsement of the way we have managed the war. It is also noteworthy that the number is slipping – 51 percent believed it in November 2005.
One of the most troubling findings for America, the pollsters note, is that the United States gets most of the blame from the Iraqis for the unrest in their country, among both the Sunnis and Shiites. The number of Iraqis who call it "acceptable" to attack U.S. or coalition forces has soared from 17 percent in 2004 to 51 percent now.
Another poll of more than 5,000 Iraqis by the British market research firm Opinion Research Business revealed similar concerns among Iraqis about their personal security. While that survey showed some faith in the future, with support for the government of Nouri al Malik increasing significantly from last September, the ORB poll also shows that a majority of Iraqis believe the security situation in Iraq will get better when the "multi national forces" leave. So even among the people who live there and who believe in their new government, they trust that things will improve only when we remove our troops from their country and bring them home.
We should listen to their message.
Now I would ask you to honor the memory of two Pennsylvania soldiers who were killed late last year in Iraq.
Chief Warrant Officer John R. Priestner, 42, of Pike Township in Bradford County, died November 6 in Balad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when his AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed. Chief Priestner was assigned to the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.
Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis, 19, of Knox, died December 4 of injuries suffered when a grenade was thrown into his vehicle in Baghdad. PFC McGinnis was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
Thank You Madam President.
Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo