Tuesday, 18 September 2007

American Survey - Perceptions of Iraqi Deaths

I came across this very interesting article on line in The Huffington Post, published on February 24th, 2007. It’s a report of an AP-Ipsos poll conducted across the US looking at American attitudes to deaths in Iraq.-


In substance, it found that Americans are keenly aware of how many US soldiers have been killed in Iraq, but woefully underestimate the number of Iraqi civilians who have been killed.

“When the poll was conducted earlier this month, a little more than 3,100 U.S. troops had been killed. The midpoint estimate among those polled was right on target, at about 3,000.”

Whereas –

“The U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq reports more than 34,000 deaths in 2006 alone. Among those polled for the AP survey, however, the median estimate of Iraqi deaths was 9,890. The median is the point at which half the estimates were higher and half lower.”

I wonder what this means? Is it a product of the media coverage, or maybe the people surveyed had friends and connections in the military. Perhaps ignorance is part of the explanation. Americans I met in Vietnam as long ago as 1970 demonstrated a profound ignorance of history and geography except as it applied to the USA, and when it came to their own country, their knowledge was spot on.

The few I met in Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam during the past few years weren’t much better. What I did notice was that American backpackers (the young ones) had a better knowledge than those Americans of my generation, but it was limited to countries they had personally visited.

The only conclusion I could come to was that this was a product of their education system.

It’s an issue when we understand the profound influence the US exerts on world affairs through projection of power. It may also explain why some of them vote for a President like GW Bush.

Pretty frightening really!

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