The lie of public opinion, the present absent in the Arab reality?
Some Arab officials astound you when they insist on repeating assertions handed down from generation to generation, affirming that their decisions and actions are issued based on full and undiminished knowledge of what public opinion wants, and that it is in the interest of citizens are. , although no one asked these citizens for their opinion before issuing those decisions. And it is the same surprise that strikes you when you hear from the official or those around him that he continues to work day and night and even deprives himself of sleep and sacrifices what is precious and precious to serve the people and ensure their comfort, even though no one asked him to do it, and everyone wishes that he would rest, And leave the “stressful” position to others.
On the basis of these allegations, hundreds of decisions and laws are issued which are subsequently amended dozens of times, and constitutions that the ruler himself sets in some cases, as the only expression of public opinion in his country, are legislated, and fake referendums are held. for them, and they remain in place only until a new president comes to abolish the constitution that preceded him, and lays down his new constitution according to the same inherited formula. What is dangerous is that fatal decisions in the lives of states and peoples, such as decisions of war and peace, and the neglect of national rights, are taken by one person, who thinks, and some suspect is sinful, that only Divine Providence has chose him out of the millions to lead and look after his interests the minor people, who cannot decide for themselves and himself. Therefore he has the right to act on behalf of all, and impose upon them what he deems fit without question or review.
I can claim, as a researcher in the media and public opinion, that all those who passed through high positions in the Arab countries after independence never thought about what is called “public opinion” and did not take it into account in their decisions and actions, but rather underestimate it and do not pay attention to it, because they realize It is good that they did not come to power because of a free and fair choice of peoples, and that their survival in this may not depend on the approval or disapproval of public opinion. Many Arab countries and peoples paid a heavy price for individual Alawi decisions that were not consulted by “public opinion”. How many of these decisions have been taken by many Arab regimes in contemporary Arab history, and they have turned out to be wrong, and could have been avoided if the Arab state had gone back to its citizens and sought their views on them before taking them. It is possible to refer here to two historical models from two large Arab countries, Egypt and Iraq.
Political, economic and military affairs are still managed in Arab countries with the same logic that ignores public opinion
In Egypt, individual decisions began in the wake of the success of the army’s movement in these days of 1952, whether for the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser or the Revolutionary Command Council with the decision to overthrow the President of the Republic, Major General Muhammad Naguib to throw , which supported the return of the army to its barracks and the restoration of rule to civilians, and then the abolition of political life and the dissolution of parties, through the nationalization decrees which included the nationalization of the press to be the only remaining form of expression to control. of public opinion, then the decision to participate in the 1960 Congo War, which reportedly drained half of Egypt’s gold reserves at the time, and then the Yemen War, which Egypt entered in 1962. This had a significant impact on the weakening of the Egyptian army, which enabled Israel to defeat Egypt in the war of 1967. Individual decisions continued with the late president Anwar Sadat, especially the decision to visit Israel in 1977 , and the subsequent signing of the Camp David Agreements of 1979. All these decisions were taken in closed rooms, and without returning to the Egyptian “public opinion”, which could have opposed them all, and the state already saved the losses it entailed.
Moving to Iraq, we find that some of the decisions of the late President Saddam Hussein entered Iraq, which experienced a great development revival in the late seventies and early eighties, a dark tunnel of useless wars, and the squandering of the wealth of one of the richest Arab countries at that time. Saddam entered the eight-year war with Iran without polling Iraqi public opinion, and left without victory, and with a large amount of human and material losses, prompting him to make his second disastrous decision to invade Kuwait to fall, leading to Iraq and the entire region countless problems that are still suffering from its consequences. Iraq emerged from this invasion with a crushing military defeat that consumed everything, and the Iraqi people suffered for many years from the unjust international siege that ended with the US-British invasion, and then the occupation of Iraq.
Despite the clarity of the historical lessons of Egypt and Iraq, the Arabs have learned nothing from them, and the political, economic and military affairs are still managed in the Arab countries with the same logic that ignores public opinion, and there is still Arab officials who believe that he was sent to lead the people, and that he alone is capable of knowing everything. Therefore we find someone who abolishes an elected parliament, disrupts political life, interferes in the judiciary, makes international alliances, and draws up a new constitution for himself and himself, claiming to be the only one among millions of people who understand what the country is. needs in all fields, and that he is the “inspirer” who makes decisions that reach the interests of the people without The need to gauge the opinion of these people. If that were true, we would not have seen this decline at all levels that many Arab countries are seeing as a result of the unilateral decision.
Why are Arab regimes afraid of conducting honest and genuine public opinion polls, conducted by independent research centers?
The question that imposes itself on the phenomenon of the absence of Arab public opinion: Why are Arab regimes afraid to conduct impartial and real public opinion surveys, carried out by independent research centers, satisfied with official reports prepared by the information and sovereign agencies. mainly aimed at pleasing the regime? The answer is that these regimes are afraid to announce the results of these polls, especially because they realize that their decisions and actions do not satisfy the people, or at least the majority of them.
Can an Arab regime tolerate the results of a Gallup-style public opinion poll dating back to 1935, which conducts regular public opinion polls in the United States and more than 140 countries? of course not. An example is the poll, which the Foundation published its results on its website on July 25 on “trust in American institutions,” in which it confirmed that the low rate of Americans’ trust in their institutions reaches only 27%, and that confidence has declined. surveyed in 11 out of 16 institutions. From 1 to 20 June last year. Confidence dropped to 25% in the Supreme Court, 23% in the presidency and President Biden, 31% in the church, 16% in newspapers, 11% in TV news, 14% in criminal justice and 14% in large corporations. Trust reached its lowest level in Congress at 7%, while it reached 64% in the military and 45% in the police.
Can an independent Arab research center in an Arab country conduct such public opinion polls? And if he does, can he declare that confidence in the president and the institution of the presidency is as low as Gallup said about President Biden? When this happens, we can say that we have started on the right path, otherwise we remain far from public opinion and the requirements to measure it, and it is better to stop talking about it or tell it to students as ‘ to teach a course in media colleges and departments.