President Bush is fond of telling Americans they have
liberated Iraq and that the country’s future generations will be thankful.
The current generation, however, overwhelmingly views U.S. forces as
occupiers and wishes they would just leave, according to a poll
commissioned by the administration.

The poll, requested by the Coalition Provisional Authority last month but
not released to the American public, found more than half of Iraqis
surveyed believed both that they’d be safer without U.S. forces and that
all Americans behave like the military prison guards pictured in the Abu
Ghraib abuse photos.

The survey, obtained by The Associated Press, also found radical cleric
Muqtada al-Sadr is surging in popularity as he leads an insurrection
against U.S.-led forces, but would still be a distant finisher in an
election for Iraqi president.

”If you are sitting here as part of the coalition, it (the poll) is pretty
grim,” said Donald Hamilton, a career foreign service officer who is
working for Ambassador Paul Bremer’s interim government and helps oversee
the CPA’s polling of Iraqis.

”While you have to be saddened that our intentions have been misunderstood
by a lot of Iraqis, the truth of the matter is they have a strong
inclination toward the things that have the potential to bring democracy
here,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday from Baghdad.

Hamilton noted the poll found 63 percent of Iraqis believed conditions will
improve when an Iraqi interim government takes over June 30, and 62 percent
believed it was ”very likely” the Iraqi police and Army will maintain
security without U.S. forces..


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