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En større spørreundersøkelse blant 2.300 irakere viser at befolkningen er den i verden som er mest «reaksjonær»: minst villig til å ha utlendinger som naboer, som er mest skeptisk til å la kvinner få posisjoner, og som legger stor vekt på religion og lydighet fremfor noe. Ikke akkurat noe glad-budskap for amerikanerne.

Researchers from the invaluable World Values Survey have interviewed over 2,300 adults from all over Iraq. The results have just been published by Ronald Inglehart, Mansoor Moaddel and Mark Tessler in the journal Perspectives on Politics.

Inglehart, Moaddel and Tessler describe a people who, buffeted by violence, have withdrawn into mere survival mode. They are suspicious of outsiders and intolerant toward weak groups, and they cling fiercely to what is familiar and traditional.

The researchers asked the Iraqis if they would mind living next door to foreigners. In most societies, there is a small minority who say they would mind. Nine percent of Americans say they would mind, and in the median country internationally about 16 percent say they would mind. Ninety percent of the Iraqi Arab respondents rejected foreigners as neighbors.

As Inglehart, Moaddel and Tessler write, Iraqis «reject foreigners to a degree that is virtually unknown in other societies throughout the world, including more than a dozen predominantly Islamic countries.»

Iraqi Arabs almost universally reject Americans, Britons and the French, and roughly 60 percent reject Iranians, Kuwaitis and Jordanians, the groups they are least hostile to.

Iraqis also viscerally resist social reform and deviation from the traditional ways of doing things. For example, 93 percent of Arab Iraqis said men made better leaders than women, the highest proportion of any group in the world.

Iraqi Arabs were asked which values they would like to instill in their children. They emphasized «obedience» and «religious faith» more than any of the 80 other societies that have been studied. They were less likely to try to instill «independence» in their children than people in 74 of the study’s 80 societies.

Meanwhile, Iraqis cling fiercely to their primal identities. Roughly 86 percent of the Arab Iraqis said they were very proud to be Iraqi, and the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds were very likely to trust members of their own community. Such in-group solidarity is almost without precedent.

Iraqi Kurds stood apart from the world in all these various measures, but Iraqi Arabs stood apart even more. This suggests that Saddam’s tyranny had already had a corrosive effect on Iraqi society by 1991, when the Kurds were effectively liberated, but over the past 15 years, things have become much worse. It’s impossible to tell how much of the trauma has been caused since the American invasion.

Closing of a Nation
By DAVID BROOKS
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