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Between the Lines

December 17, 2003

Listening to the Iraqis

The war in Iraq – or more specifically the way the Bush administration maneuvered us into it – has become so highly politicized that it’s easy for Americans to lose sight of what the capture of Saddam Hussein means to Iraqis. So today we’re going to take a break from talking heads and hear directly from some Iraqi bloggers. What they have to say is at one level quite predictable – most of them are overjoyed to see the hated tyrant dethroned. But some of them also address deeper, more ambiguous, and more interesting questions. They’re happy, yes – but also sometimes confused and sometimes sad. The sudden lifting of a lifetime burden of fear and anxiety can be disorienting in ways that most Americans can only imagine.

‘Why did he have to destroy Iraq? What did he gain from all this?’

Here’s Zeyad at Healing Iraq:

“I still haven't been able to get rid of this deep sadness that has overcome me the last two days. People have been emailing asking me to explain. I wish I could, but I simply can't.

“After going through the comments today I had some more thoughts. If you had lived all your life ruled by a tough dictator elevated to the level of a god and then suddenly without warning watched that dictator displayed to the public on TV as a 'man', you probably would have related with my position.

“The images were shocking. I couldn't make myself believe this was the same Saddam that slaughtered hundreds of thousands and plundered my country's wealth for decades. The humiliation I experienced was not out of nationalistic pride or Islamic notions of superiority or anything like that as some readers suggested. It was out of a feeling of impotence and helplessness. This was just one old disturbed man yet the whole country couldn't dispose of him. We needed a superpower from the other side of the ocean to come here and 'get him' for us. I was really confused that day I went out and almost got myself killed by those Fedayeen and angry teenagers in the Adhamiya district [of Baghdad, where some residents still support Saddam].

“Rachel and Ali explained the Stockholm Syndrome in the comments section. I haven't heard about it before, but it did help me understand my contradicting feelings. I didn't want to see him humiliated as much as I loathed him. And that is why I was dissapointed with myself. I want to see him sit in an Iraqi court and explain himself to Iraqis. I want to hear him apologize to Iraqis. It won't help the dead, but I want to hear it anyway. He must be handed over to Iraqis. I don't care about legitimacy. He must be tried publicly in an Iraqi civil court by Iraqi judges. The rest of the Arab dictators should see it and learn from it.

“And I'm still wondering why? Why did he have to put himself into this? Why did he have to destroy Iraq? What did he gain from all of this?”

Chaos in the streets ...

The power was off in some areas of Baghdad when the news of Saddam’s capture broke. Riverbend captures the chaotic moment and the danger that still hovers in some Baghdad neighborhoods:

“Things are very frightening these days in Baghdad. Going from one area to another is like going from one city to another -- the feelings and emotions vary so drastically it feels like only a matter of time before we may see clashes ... "

Alaa at The Mesopotamian clarifies what the clashes may be about, if they come: the anti-Saddam majority acting to suppress the pro-Saddam minority:

“It is wrong that the 90% percent good Iraqis feel insecure and afraid to go out in the street. It should be the other way round. It is they that should be afraid to show their ugly faces.”

Chaotic emotions ...

Ays at Iraq the Model:

“I don’t know what to say… I am confused.. no … I am very happy.. I am very happy.. .. I am very happy.. .. I am very happy.. .. I am very happy.. .. I am very happy.. .. I am very happy..

“This is the end of tyranny.. congratulations .. a great day.. for Iraqi and all the good people.. share us our great day.. I can’t express my feelings.. thanks to the coalition forces and all the honest people who helped in that great operation ….thank you thank you thousand times.”

Finally, Hammorabi has a workmanlike roundup of how the news was received in different areas of the country.

Posted by tbrown at 12:57 PM

Do you have to be an idiot to be a Democratic presidential candidate?

No, but it certainly seems to help. I meant to post earlier this week on their generally feckless, whiny reactions to Saddam’s capture but didn’t get to it. So let’s do it now. Here they are, as compiled by The New York Times (free site registration required).

The only ones who sound like they might be worth voting for are Clark and Dean. What’s the matter with the rest of these people? Can’t they at least make a graceful bow to the capture of one of recent history’s most brutal thugs?

Posted by tbrown at 12:52 PM

Why do some of us think this administration has a wee credibility gap?

If anyone needed another reason, here it is. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, says he and about 75 other senators were told in a classified briefing in October 2002 that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction but drones capable of delivering them to the eastern seaboard of the U.S.

Here’s a photo of one of those dreaded drones of mass destruction. Just makes you tremble in your boots, doesn’t it? Especially since it was designed for reconnaisance.

And Bushies wonder why the unbrainwashed think they maybe fibbed just a little about their reasons for going to war.

Posted by tbrown at 12:51 PM

Halliburton watch

Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's former employer, is charging $28 per day to feed each U.S. soldier in Iraq. Here’s what Pentagon inspectors had to say about some of the kitchens, including the one that hosted President Bush’s ballyhooed Thanksgiving visit:

The Pentagon reported finding ‘blood all over the floor, ‘dirty pans,’ ‘dirty grills,’ ‘dirty salad bars’ and ‘rotting meats ... and vegetables’ in four of the military messes the company operates in Iraq … “

NBC’s video report is available here.

Hey, let ‘em eat MREs.

Posted by tbrown at 12:49 PM

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Listening to the Iraqis
Do you have to be an idiot to be a Democratic presidential candidate?
Why do some of us think this administration has a wee credibility gap?
Halliburton watch


Blogs to watch

Abu Ardvark
Andrew Sullivan
Atrios Eschaton
Best of the Web
Drudge Report
Joe Conason (subscription required)
Josh Marshall
Kaus files
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Real Clear Politics
The Corner
The Volokh Conspiracy
The Whiskey Bar

Mideast blogs

Salam Pax (Iraq)
G. in Baghdad
L.T. Smash (U.S. military in Iraq)
Lady Sun (Iran)

City blogs

L.A. Examiner

Africa blogs

Cathy Buckle

Media blogs

Dan Gillmor's eJournal
Media Whores Online


Newspapers online (guide to papers on the web)
International Herald Tribune
The Guardian U.K.
New York Times (free registration required)

Economy blogs

Brad DeLong

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