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Iraq By The Numbers--A recent poll reflects more on the failures of Iraqis than Americans ^ | May 3, 2004 | Steven Vincent

Posted on 05/03/2004 6:55:07 AM PDT by SJackson

"IRAQIS TO U.S: GO HOME,” screamed an April 28th headline on USA Today’s website. And indeed, according to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll conducted among nearly 3,500 people, 71 percent of Iraqis view the Coalition as “occupiers” of their country and 57 percent want the troops to leave within a few months. Worse, by a 46 to 33 percent margin, Iraqis feel the invasion created more harm than good. Even worse, 58 percent expressed a negative view of U.S. troops, with an astonishing 64 percent of Baghdad’s population claiming that attacks on U.S. soldiers can be justified. No wonder USA Today tagged a second headline to the article “POLL: IRAQIS OUT OF PATIENCE.”

But wait. The same poll indicated that 61 percent of the Iraqis believe that the suffering they’ve endured since the invasion was “worth” the removal of Saddam Hussein. Moreover, 89 percent agreed that Iraqis themselves could not have removed the dictator. Eighty-four percent stated that their family incomes were about the same or better than the invasion, while 63 percent believed that life will improve in their nation over the next five years. Perhaps a more accurate USA Today headline might have read, “UNGRATEFUL IRAQS ENJOY BENEFITS FROM INVASION.”

But wait again. When asked if they based their negative assessment of American soldiers on personal experience, only seven percent of Iraqis and eight percent of Baghdadis said yes. In a related question, only eight percent of Baghdadis affirmed that either they or any family members had had personal interaction with U.S. troops So why do they have such a sour perception of GIs on? Thirty-nine percent admit to basing their opinion on what they’ve “seen,” 54 percent on what they’ve “heard.” What in the name of Aisha’s camel is going on here?

Let’s take that last statistic first. It’s impossible to overstate the torrent of rumor and gossip Iraqis receive on a daily basis—and which, if it involves negative stories about the U.S. (or Israel), they uncritically consider true. Take, for example, the enchanting folks of the Sunni Triangle. Traveling from Ramadi to Fallujah to Tikrit and beyond, I heard identical complaints--U.S. soldiers show “disrespect” to Iraqi women, steal “money and gold” from Iraqi homes and are “Zionist infidels.” Now, aside from that last allegation, no doubt some GIs have justified these Iraqi complaints. But the Sunnis’ charges were so unvaried and similar, that I wondered if I were hearing different versions of a single story told over and over again in order to satisfy some pre-existing resentment toward America. And lo and behold, the USA Today poll mirrors these same objections: 55 percent of the Sunnis claimed that GIs showed “disrespect” to women, 75 percent said they mistreated Iraqi families whose homes they searched, and 54 percent felt they showed lack of respect while searching mosques. All this, even though only 10 percent admit to personally experiencing these outrages

As for what Iraqis “see,” let me offer another small anecdote: in Fallujah, I spoke to three Iraqi men who claimed that, the day before, they witnessed a GI shoot a woman dead in the street. Traveling to the scene of the murder, I encountered a passing policeman whom I asked about the incident. No, he said, a soldier had not killed the woman; rather, she had been shot as part of a revenge-honor killing involving two Kurdish families. So much for Iraqi eye-witnesses. But they don’t need to see American atrocities firsthand: they have TV. According to the poll, 28 percent and 27 percent of Iraqi people watch Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera TV, respectively, while 39 and 35 percent think the jihadist-friendly news sources are in fact “objective.” With this in mind, perhaps USAToday’s headline should have read; “POLL RESULTS SKEWED BY IRAQIS’ CREDULOUS ACCEPTANCE OF ANTI-AMERICAN GOSSIP AND NEWS.”

But there’s more. When asked what would happen if Coalition forces departed from Iraqi “today,” 53 percent of respondents said they would feel “less safe.” The Kurds in particular: 92 percent thought a quick pull-out would precipitate anarchy, while 84 percent want the post-June 30th Iraqi government to request that the troops stay in Iraq. Contrast this with only 33 percent of non-Kurds—which means, for all intents and purposes, Arabs--who believe that the Coalition’s withdrawal would trigger a disaster, and 51 percent who thought a new Iraqi government should demand the troops leave immediately. What does this mean? Well, USA Today might have stated: ‘MILLIONS OF KURDS TRUST COALITION MORE THAN ARABS AND WANT TROOPS TO REMAIN.”

Nor can we blame the good people of Kurdistan. By margins of roughly 75 to 35 percent, Arabs are more likely than Kurds to favor giving religious leaders a “direct role” in such matters as deciding school curriculum, drafting legislation and determining who should run for office. In the all-important “women’s issue” the Kurds come off as veritable suffragettes compared to their Arab brethren. When asked if women should have the same rights as men, 98 percent of Kurds said “yes,” versus 42 percent of non-Kurds. More incredibly, in answering whether women should have more freedom than before the invasion or less, 82 percent of the Kurds said “more,” while 60 percent of Arabs believed than should adopt even more stringent “traditional” roles than they had before Iraq’s liberation. America’s country’s largest-circulation newspaper might have declared, “POLL SHOWS THAT KURDS, NOT ARABS, SHOULD RUN IRAQ.”

None of this should diminish the pain the non-Kurdish Iraqis reported on the survey—or the glaring failures of the U.S. reconstruction effort. When 100 percent of Baghdadis report electricity shortages, 82 percent complain of lengthy lines at gas stations and 70 percent say they’re afraid to go outside of their homes during the day, you know something is wrong. When 69 percent of Iraqis feel that cooperating with the CPA could endanger their lives, Sheriff George W. Bush has not done his job locking up the “bad guys.” Or, as one Iraqi said to me, “If you’re going to occupy our country, occupy it.”

Still, along with U.S. mistakes, this poll also indicates the depth of Iraqi confusion, resentment, ingratitude, unrealistic expectations and chest-puffing bravado. Moreover, it does not register the much-remarked-upon tendency of Arabic-speaking people to exaggerate and make overassertions (a la Saddam’s “Mother of All Battles”), especially if they fear they might not be heard or understood. Nor does it answer the most crucial issue behind the poll: will Iraqi unhappiness translate into increased hostile action against the Coalition? We all pray it won’t, of course. Still, I wish the pollsters had asked at least one other question: do the majority of Iraqis really know what will happen should the Coalition leave and they find themselves living in a Islamic state with religious-based laws, women in virtual slavery and bearded old men determining their destinies? I can already see the headline: “IRAQIS TO U.S: COME BACK.”

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: iraq; pollsiniraq
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1 posted on 05/03/2004 6:55:08 AM PDT by SJackson
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Yehuda; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; ...
If you'd like to be on or off this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.
2 posted on 05/03/2004 6:59:00 AM PDT by SJackson (Slaughter the Jews wherever you find them. Their spilled blood pleases Allah, Haj Amin el-Husseini)
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To: SJackson
The pro-war types at Frontpage helped get us us into this mess (they were warned!) and now they blame the Iraqis for their failure.
3 posted on 05/03/2004 7:02:56 AM PDT by Captain Kirk
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To: SJackson
The "USA" in "USA Today" must stand for "Unpatriotic Socialist A$$%*#?$".
4 posted on 05/03/2004 8:02:50 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn't be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: SJackson
Healing Iraq
Daily news and comments on the situation in post Saddam Iraq by an Iraqi dentist

Sunday, April 11, 2004
One year after Saddam
A whole year has passed now and I can't help but feel that we are back at the starting point again. The sense of an impending disaster, the ominous silence, the breakdown of most governmental facilities, the absence of any police or security forces, contradicting news reports, rumours everywhere, and a complete disruption in the flow of everyday life chores.
All signs indicate that it's all spiralling out of control, and any statements by CPA and US officials suggesting otherwise are blatantly absurd.

The chaos and unrest have rapidly spread to several other cities in Iraq such as Mosul, Ba'quba, and Kirkuk. The situation in Fallujah looks terrible and bleak enough from what Al-Jazeera is showing every hour. Ahmad Mansour reported that they keep changing their location for fear of being targetted by Americans. The town stadium has turned into one large graveyard, and the death toll is 500 Iraqis until now with over a thousand injured, a huge price to pay for 'pacification'. The insurgents in Fallujah who are using mosques and house roofs to wage their war against the Marines are equally to blame for the blood of the civilians who have been caught in the crossfire. A ceasefire has been announced by the Americans and is supposed to be in effect but Al-Jazeera reports that fighting continues. What kills me is the absence of any serious effort by Iraqi parties, organisations, tribal leaders, or clerics to intermediate or try to put an end to the cycle of violence. All we hear is denunciation and fiery speeches as if those were going to achieve anything on the ground.

An anonymous group announced that it held 30 foreign hostages today according to Al-Iraqiya tv. Two Germans were also kidnapped recently, as well as an Italian. There have been rumours on the Internet that the three Japanese hostages faked the video that was displayed two days ago with the help of Iraqis in an attempt to pressure the Japanese government in withdrawing their troops. All three of them are anti-war activists. Noriaki Imai was in Iraq researching the effect of Depleted Uranium on Iraqis. Nahoka Takato works with an NGO helping Iraqi children orphaned from the war, and Soichiru Koriyama is a freelance journalist who has been in the Palestinian occupied territories recently. I find it hard to believe they would go this far. The fear and horror in their eyes was very evident in the video, if it is a hoax then they certainly have a promising future in Hollywood. I also received an incredible number of emails and appeals from Japanese citizens and organizations asking me to spare the lives of the Japanese hostages (do they think I have something to do with the kidnapping??) and to tell the 'mujahideen' that the hostages were all against the war (as if that would make any difference to the kidnappers).

In Karbala, a Mahdi Army figure announced yesterday that they have suspended all operations in the holy city until the Shia Arba'ieniya ceremonies are over. Preparations for the event have not been interrupted by the situation in the country, and Shia pilgrims continue to pour into Karbala, which is totally under control of Al-Mahdi. The spokesman congratulated Zainab bint Ali (Imam Hussein's sister) for the 'liberation' of her brother's city in his speech. Any terrorist attacks against the visiting Shi'ites in the next 24 hours would most probably plunge the country into a disaster. And I can't see how Al-Mahdi are going to prevent attacks if any local or foreign powers decide to. A new popular hossa (tribal battle cry) amongst Mahdi militiamen is 'Fallujah wa Al-Kufa, hatha alwatan men'ufa' (Fallujah and Kufa, this country we will not abandon). Some Iraqis have been circulating another controversial hossa being used by Mahdi "Excuse us Imam Ali, but Muqtada is our weli". This slogan is considered very insulting and offensive to the majority of Shia, since in their doctrine only Imam Ali (Muhammed's cousin and son-in-law) is considered to be their weli or guardian. There has also been talk about Muqtada being referred to as Al-Mahdi (Shi'ite twelfth lost Imam and Messiah), but Shia regard that as an outrageous allegation.

As to Al-Sadr's relation with Iran, I would think it highly improbable that he is an Iranian puppet, although his ties to the Grand Ayatollah Kadhum Al-Ha'eri (Iraqi exiled cleric in Iran) are well known (Muqtada himself confessed once some time ago that he was Al-Ha'eri's agent in Iraq which was the main reason he gathered such a following as well as his father's reverence by Iraqi Shia). I admit that is highly possible that he has recieved financial support from Iran but not to the extent as to work in behalf of them in Iraq. There are rumours of existing training camps for Al-Mahdi volunteers in Iran along the Iraqi border, but I think it is very improbable that the Iranian regime would be so open in their support for the dissenting cleric. However, it is also hard to believe that a young and inexperienced cleric with no real popular support from the Hawza would succeed in recruiting, financing, and training an army of 10,000 Shi'ites, as well as setting up offices, newspapers, and a huge propaganda machine all by himself. All of his aides and supporters are young and impoverished, a large number of them are known to people as criminals, thieves, looters, and unemployed illiterate slum dwellers. They would never show such dedication to their cause unless they were being rewarded. And any one who suggests that they rebelled for nationalist reasons can never be more far from reality. This is NOT a Shia rebellion or Intifada. The only case where a Shia uprising would take place is if the Grand Ayatollah Ali Taqi Al-Sistani issues a fatwah to that effect, along with the support of the other three leading Shi'ite clerics (Ayatollah Mohammed Sa'eed Al-Hakim, Ayatollah Bashir Al-Najafi, and Ayatollah Mohammed Ishaq Al-Fayyadh) who constitute the Hawza alilmiyyah of Najaf. And Sistani might lose patience any moment and do so considering the deteriorating situation. An agent of Sistani was quoted once saying "We receive so many requests each day from Iraqis asking us to issue a fatwa for Jihad against the Americans. We say no, but this No will not be forever".

It is becoming increasingly evident from all the violence we have witnessed over the last year, that a proxy war is being waged against the US on Iraqi soil by several countries and powers with Iraqis as the fuel and the fire, just like Lebanon was during the late seventies and eighties. The majority of Arab regimes have a huge interest in this situation continuing, not to mention Iran, and Al-Qaeda. I am not trying, of course, to lift the blame from Iraqis, because if Iraqis were not so divided the way they are, these powers would have never succeeded. I never thought that Iraqis would be so self-destructive, I thought that they had enough of that. But with each new day I am more and more convinced that we need our own civil war to sort it all out. It might take another 5, 10, or even 20 years, and hundreds of thousands more dead Iraqis but I believe it would be inevitable. Yugoslavia, South Africa, Lebanon, Algiers, and Sudan did not achieve the relative peace and stability they now enjoy if it weren't for their long years of civil war. If the 'resistance' succeeded and 'liberated' Iraq, the country would immediately be torn into 3, 4, 5 or more parts with each faction, militia, or army struggling to control Baghdad, Kirkuk, Najaf, Karbala, and the oil fields. It will not be a sectarian war as many would imagine, it would be a war between militias. We already have up to 5 official militias, not to mention the various religious groups and armies.

It is the most foolish and selfish thing to say "pull the troops out", or "replace them with the UN or NATO". Someone has to see us through this mess to the end. Only a deluded utopian (or an idiot peace activist) would believe that Iraqis would all cosily sit down and settle down their endless disputes without AK-47's, RPG's, or mortars in the event of coalition troops abandoning Iraq. Please please don't get me wrong, I am not in the least saying that I enjoy being occupied by a foreign force, I am not a dreamer who believes that the USA is here for altruistic reasons, I am not saying that I am happy with what my bleeding country is going through, believe me when I say it tears my heart every day to witness all the bloodshed, it pains me immensely to see that we have no leaders whomsoever with the interest and well-being of Iraq as their primary goal, it kills me to see how blind and ignorant we have all become. Iraqis are dying inside every day, and we are committing suicide over and over and over. Some people call me a traitor or a collaborator for all the above and for speaking the truth as opposed to rhetorical, fiery speeches which have been our downfall.

# posted by zeyad : 4/11/2004 02:50:35 AM
5 posted on 05/03/2004 8:03:10 AM PDT by Valin (Hating people is like burning down your house to kill a rat)
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To: Captain Kirk
Ah, so when the polling data doesn't really support your view, it's blame the messenger, huh? Sorry. Right war, right time.

The "reconstruction" will be a success, much, I'm sure, to your disappointment.

6 posted on 05/03/2004 8:14:04 AM PDT by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news.)
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To: LS
Huh? I merely pointed out that Iraqi attitudes are rapidly turning against the occupation. Even Frontpage agrees with me. You did not address this point.
7 posted on 05/03/2004 8:21:24 AM PDT by Captain Kirk
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To: Captain Kirk
Huh? Frontpage says that it's a stretch to conclude that the Iraqis "know" much of anything from that poll. Moreover, it stands in stark contrast to other polls that say that they "want us out" but that they "want security," meaning us.

Face it: we're gonna stay; we're gonna win; and in the end we'll probably have a decent ally in the region, much like Kharzai in Afghanistan.

8 posted on 05/03/2004 8:23:38 AM PDT by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news.)
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To: LS
So, one year after exercising the benefits of free speech and receiving massive U.S. aid and "instruction," you conclude that the Iraqis have become uniformed boobs? So much for the universal rights of man. I guess that are little Brown brothers aren't "ready yet."
9 posted on 05/03/2004 8:29:31 AM PDT by Captain Kirk
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To: LS
"are" should be "our"
10 posted on 05/03/2004 8:30:28 AM PDT by Captain Kirk
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To: Captain Kirk
They "want" us to leave, because they know we won't.

If we tried to leave, they would beg us to stay.

It's like the French regarding American tourists.

11 posted on 05/03/2004 8:34:38 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: dead
Your description of the Iraqis starts from the premise that they are like spoiled children not adults. If nation building is based on that premise, it will fail miserably, heck it *is* failing miserably. BTW, your description of the Iraqis as child-like totally contradicts Dubya's Wilsonian purple prose attacking those who argue that the Iraqis "can't handle" freedom.
12 posted on 05/03/2004 8:38:49 AM PDT by Captain Kirk
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To: Captain Kirk
They are children.

Take up your argument with Bush, not me.

13 posted on 05/03/2004 8:40:09 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: dead
It all goes to prove that the predications of anti-war freepers were right after all.
14 posted on 05/03/2004 8:42:08 AM PDT by Captain Kirk
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To: Captain Kirk
No, they're children too.

Saddam Hussein needed to be removed from power, and he was. The world is a better place for it too.

And Iraq, even with its current problems is a far better place for it.

15 posted on 05/03/2004 8:58:37 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: Captain Kirk
So, one year after exercising the benefits of free speech and receiving massive U.S. aid and "instruction," you conclude that the Iraqis have become uniformed boobs?

"have become?" It sounds like you're assuming they were brilliant before.

16 posted on 05/03/2004 9:44:40 AM PDT by gogeo (Short and non offensive)
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To: Valin
Valin, the real story from the FrontPage article is that Iraqis has a whole new freedom, and they are 'newbies' at the game of freedom. some believe the worst and wildest stories, because they've been fed those lies constantly from babyhood to adulthood and dont know any better. Some of their expectations are unrealistic, but that doesnt mean that they are unable to evolve their mindset.

By way of analogy, think about people who are new to computers. they get some wild expectations ...
Here are some other funny stories from Zeyad and, about Baghdad residents new to the internet:

This post is getting super long and it seems I have digressed. I wanted to share a few amusing stories about some new and first-time Iraqi Internet users that my friend was telling me the other day. Sooo here we go; first story. My friend was helping an elderly lady open a webmail account, he left her slowly typing an email message to a relative. She asked him later to send the message for her. My friend, always so kind and helpful, just went over and hit the send button. "What did you dooooo?!!" the woman shrieked at him. He told her that he did what she asked for. "Didn't you write thanks at the end of the letter??" she asked him, obviously insulted about that fact. "Errr, no. Didn't you finish writing?". She said that she did but that it was awfully rude of him not to remind her to say thanks. My friend was confused at this point and he offered to send another email of thanks to her relative. "No, too late. I want my letter back. Bring it back please". A senseless laugh was emitted from the guy on the computer next to them who was overhearing their conversation, the woman glared at him and he cut it short. S told her that he couldn't possibly do that since he had already sent it. The woman looked bitter so my friend humourously said that if he could run fast enough up to the roof to the main Internet satellite dish he might be able to retrieve the email message just before it was transmitted into space. "Why are you still standing here?!" She screamed at him, "What are you waiting for?!".

Another amusing incident was when a solemn middle aged man entered the cafe and asked to check his Yahoo email account. My friend (who I will call S) opened up the Yahoo Mail main page and left the man to his business. After what seemed like ages, the man called for him complaining of a problem with his account. "Oh, you're still here? What's the problem?". The man said that Yahoo wasn't accepting his password. S asked him for his user ID and password. "My user ID is and my password is baghdad" the man replied in all seriousness. My friend was significantly surprised and told hin that wasn't possible at all, but the man sweared that he used that account all the time at other Internet cafes and that it worked, he then proceeded to rant about the cafe's poor connection and how he had spent a couple of hours achieving nothing at all. S let him leave without paying of course after this exchange. He said the man was elegantly dressed and looked respectable and that it is was no way he was playing any tricks just to browse for free.

There was another guy who had just opened a new webmail account with the assistance of my friend, and then out of the blue said that he was waiting for an urgent reply from an acquaintance of his and that he wanted it sent specifically to this account. S told him that he can't possibly do that if the other party didn't know about this new account. "Oh damn, this happens all the time" the guy said, evidently disturbed. It turned out later that the poor fellow was under the false impression that he couldn't use the same email account from two different Internet cafes, and that he had to open a new one every time he visits a new cafe. He showed my friend a long list of email accounts and passwords on a scrap of paper each with the name of an Internet cafe in front of it. S told him that he was wrong, but he wouldn't listen and insisted that it worked that way. S says there was no use trying to convince him otherwise."

17 posted on 05/03/2004 11:00:32 AM PDT by WOSG ( - I salute our brave fallen.)
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To: Captain Kirk
They are adults. Adults who've lived under propaganda for decades. So some perceptions will remain stilted.

but meanwhile, the more 'fair and balanced' al-iraqia and al-hurrah are as popular as al-jazeera. If the press is free and they have a basis of positive experience to point to - attitudes will change.
18 posted on 05/03/2004 11:05:04 AM PDT by WOSG ( - I salute our brave fallen.)
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To: LS
"Huh? Frontpage says that it's a stretch to conclude that the Iraqis "know" much of anything from that poll. Moreover, it stands in stark contrast to other polls that say that they "want us out" but that they "want security," meaning us. "

People always know their own personal situation better than anything else. They know that their personal security would be harmed by coalition leaving right away, so they want us to stay.

The belief of some Iraqis in the negative 'spin' is a concern, but with the Kurd/arab split, you clearly see that 10 years of liberation from Saddam as created a vastly different world view of those who've not been liberated until last year.

"Face it: we're gonna stay; we're gonna win; and in the end we'll probably have a decent ally in the region, much like Kharzai in Afghanistan."

19 posted on 05/03/2004 11:10:36 AM PDT by WOSG ( - I salute our brave fallen.)
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To: Captain Kirk
Depends on what you mean as "ready." Ready to love us? Probably not. Ready to exercise rights of life, liberty & pursuit of happiness? Pretty close. One of those rights it that they may not like us . . . or, in fact, they well may. Japan still likes us quite a bit---sending troops to Iraq, funding Gulf War I entirely. Like I say, we will be victorious. You can get on board or carp, but one way or another, we will win.
20 posted on 05/03/2004 11:12:23 AM PDT by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news.)
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