A new ABC News polls shows Afghanistan is enjoying the freedom their U.S.-led liberators gave them. Seventy-seven percent of Afghans say that, with democracy, their nation is on the right track.
[D]espite … deprivations, 77 percent of Afghans say their country is headed in the right direction — compared with 30 percent in the vastly better-off United States. Ninety-one percent prefer the current Afghan government to the Taliban regime, and 87 percent call the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban good for their country. Osama bin Laden, for his part, is as unpopular as the Taliban; nine in 10 view him unfavorably.
Progress fuels these views: Despite the country's continued problems, 85 percent of Afghans say living conditions there are better now than they were under the Taliban. Eighty percent cite improved freedom to express political views. And 75 percent say their security from crime and violence has improved as well. After decades of oppression and war, many Afghans see a better life.
Hope for Iraq. In five years, most of the Shiites and Kurds of Iraq probably will be saying the same thing. Two months ago, in fact, a poll found that 56 percent of Iraqis expect “the situation” in their country to be better in six months, and only 16 percent expect things to get worse. That’s a sign of real hope.
Despite their many tribes, Afghans are more homogeneous than the Iraqis and they’re much more likely to have a common, optimistic reaction to their liberation. In Iraq, however, the Sunni Arabs, once the favored 20 percent of Iraqis under Saddam Hussein, are more likely to feel singled out as losers as freedom’s light shines in.
For a few years at least, many Sunni-Arab Iraqis will associate liberty with defeat, sunshine with drought.
This will change, too.