Did you miss this? It should have been the lead story in every newspaper and radio and TV program in America. In the Washington Post it was on page 14. In virtually all of the rest of the media it was on page zero, channel zero, 0000 AM or 00.0 FM.
The US military in Iraq hired firms to conduct focus groups amongst a cross section of the population. A summary report of the findings was obtained by the Post. Here are some of the highlights of the report as disclosed by the newspaper:
* Until the March 2003 US occupation Sunnis and Shiites coexisted peacefully.
* Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the US military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them.
* After the United States leaves Iraq, national reconciliation will happen "naturally."
* A sense of "optimistic possibility permeated all focus groups ... and far more commonalities than differences are found among these seemingly diverse groups of Iraqis."
* Dividing Iraq into three states would hinder national reconciliation. (Only the Kurds did not reject this option.)
* Most would describe the negative elements of life in Iraq as beginning with the US occupation.
* Few mentioned Saddam Hussein as a cause of their problems, which the report described as an important finding, implying that "the current strife in Iraq seems to have totally eclipsed any agonies or grievances many Iraqis would have incurred from the past regime, which lasted for nearly four decades -- as opposed to the current conflict, which has lasted for five years."
The Washington Post added this note:
"Outside of the military, some of the most widespread polling in Iraq has been done by D3 Systems, a Virginia-based company that maintains offices in each of Iraq's 18 provinces.
Its most recent publicly released surveys, conducted in September for several news media organizations, showed the same widespread Iraqi belief voiced by the military's focus groups: that a U.S. departure will make things better. A State Department poll in September 2006 reported a similar finding."
This just in: The US has found the perfect way to counteract such foolish attitudes of the Iraqi people. On January 10, the Associated Press reported: "U.S. bombers and jet fighters unleashed 40,000 pounds of explosives on the southern outskirts of Baghdad within 10 minutes Thursday in one of the biggest air strikes of the war, flattening what the military called safe havens for al-Qaida in Iraq." There was no mention of whether the planes had also dropped pamphlets saying: "We bomb you because we care about you."
On December 20, the legislature of Panama declared the date to be a day of "national mourning" in memory of the American invasion on that day in 1989. "This is a recognition of those who fell on Dec. 20 as a result of the cruel and unjust invasion by the most powerful army in the world," said Rep. Cesar Pardo, of the governing Democratic Revolutionary Party, which holds a majority in the legislature. U.S. officials downplayed the issue.
"We prefer to look to the future," said a U.S. Embassy spokesman. "We are very satisfied to have a friend and partner like Panama, a nation that has managed to develop a mature democracy."
As with their attack on Iraq on March 19, 2003, the United States, with no provocation or international legality (yes, another war of aggression), first bombed Panama, then staged a ground invasion, killing as many as a few thousand, while offering no believable reason for their psychopathic behavior.
Will we some day see in a free and independent Iraq the setting of March 19 as a day of national mourning?
William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World's Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.