Published April 30, 2004
Fifty seven percent of more than 3,000 Iraqis surveyed by the Gallup poll (search) people say coalition forces should leave their country. 71 percent believe the coalition is occupying rather than liberating.
These attitudes are fairly easy to understand because most Iraqis are Muslim Arabs, who form attitudes based upon what their clerics tell them and both Shi'ite and Sunni clerics don't like the coalition in general.
Add to the mix a vicious anti-American propaganda coming from al Jazeera (search) and other Arab TV outlets, and the regular folks are hearing little good about America. According to Gallup, just 7 percent of those polled in Iraq had an actual experience with an American soldier.
Now this poll should be taken very seriously by the Bush administration. It's becoming clear that we are not going to win the propaganda war in Iraq. And the people don't even believe our forces have the right to defend themselves. Any military action by the coalition is viewed by many as anti-Iraq. Thus there is no way we can win the battle for the hearts and minds.
So what do we do? The new military strategy seems to be to bribe former military strong men and some clerics to keep the peace. That's what we're doing in Afghanistan. We bought the warlords there. And the money keeps rolling in, as long as we keep the peace. We even let them harvest opium.
In Fallujah, U.S. officials have reportedly hired a former Saddam general to convince the insurgents to quiet down. So instead of American Marines dying in the streets, we're sending in this guy to command an Iraqi force.
Talking Points believes that's worth trying. President Bush must now put the protection of our forces above all else. It may be a brutal point, but the welfare of an ungrateful and ill-informed Iraqi population is no longer worth American lives.
So the Iraqi strategy must change somewhat. The U.S. cannot allow a pro-terrorist dictator to emerge, but we also can't control the population. If they want some fanatical Islamist in charge, that's the way it'll have to be. Order is what America and Great Britain should demand. Leave all the rest to the Iraqis.
There was one encouraging note in the poll. The Kurds in northern Iraq are our friends. They appreciate the sacrifice Americans and Britons have made. We must protect those people always.
Talking Points remains convinced that the world is a better place now that Saddam is history and that there is a chance Iraq will emerge as a civilized nation. The war on terror is the most complex war in America's history. And things will not always go as we want.
The Iraqi people have spoken and we must adjust. Once again, we can no longer fight for them. We must only fight for people who value freedom and fair play.
And that's the memo.
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Those pin-heads over at "South Park" finally caught up with “The Factor” after eight years. Here is how I was portrayed last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "SOUTH PARK")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: And now here is Bill O'Reilly.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Welcome, welcome to the no spin zone, all right, and what we're talking about today are the immigrants from the future, all right? Most people are more than happy to give a helping hand to these people that obviously need it, all right? But others are starting to say that the time portal should be closed off, all right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Now, I do say "all right" too much. No question. It's ridiculous. I admit it and I will try to stop, all right?
--You can watch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 & 11p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel. Send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org