Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Iraqis see hope drain away

Jobs gone and schools closed. Marriages delayed and children mourned. Markets bombed and clean water in short supply. Speaking freely now a dangerous act.

And hope lost.

Four years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Iraqis describe daily lives that have been torn apart by spiraling violence and a faltering economy. The bursts of optimism reported in a 2004 public-opinion survey taken a year after the invasion and another in 2005 before landmark legislative elections have nearly vanished.

Face-to-face interviews with 2,212 Iraqis — a survey sponsored jointly by USA TODAY, ABC News, the British Broadcasting Corp. and ARD, a German TV network — find a nation that in large measure has fragmented into fear. Six in 10 Iraqis say their lives are going badly. Only one-third expect things to improve in the next year.

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