December 08, 2003


The Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough writes of the losing battle for Iraqi hearts and minds:

Sadly, these people are trapped in a void - relieved that Saddam is gone but now wishing that the US-led occupation forces would go, too, and happier to trust in their god than in George Bush to guide their uncertain fate.

No mention yet of the anti-terrorism demonstrations that recently have taken place in Baghdad:

Up to 1,000 Iraqis, including children orphaned by the war that ousted Saddam Hussein, marched through Baghdad yesterday to denounce guerrilla attacks and show support for U.S.-led occupation forces.

Carrying banners blaming Saddam loyalists for terrorism, the demonstrators marched down one of Baghdad's busiest streets before gathering in Firdos Square, where a statue of Saddam was famously pulled down as U.S. troops drove into the heart of the capital in April.

The Baghdad march was the second time in two weeks that Iraqi demonstrators gathered in significant numbers to back U.S. attempts to rebuild the country and denounce guerrilla activities. Another march is planned for Friday, a Muslim holy day.

Iraqi blogger Zeyad has more, and also writes:

By the way, what the hell are news organizations trying to prove by putting terrorism between idiotic quotation marks like this? I’ve decided to put quotation marks myself on the following terms: 'news organizations', 'media', 'press', 'coverage', 'reporter', and 'journalist'. F*ing morons.

Posted by Tim Blair at December 8, 2003 08:18 AM

Zayed has a "point" about that "Yahoo" article.

Look for more street demos as Alaa the Messopotamian has said they would occure on the 10th, while Zeyad has said they would be street demos on the 12th.

Maybe their both right.

Posted by: papertiger at December 8, 2003 at 08:39 AM

McGeough has written a pathetic article. After trawling the slums of Baghdad to find a disaffected family - surely not too hard to find anywhere - he gives them the full treatment.

"The only way we are better off is that Saddam has gone," says the old man. Then next sentence, whoops, it seems they can worship their religion freely.

Then a little later, whoops again, 'cause it seems their school has a lick of paint and new windows.

McGeough makes a big deal of the overflowing drains, but who let the infrastructure run down? Writers like Mark Steyn have already noted that Saddam was not much good at delivering civic services. When you tear the tongues out of people who criticise you, I suppose you can afford to be lax about collecting the rubbish.

This item smacks of absolute desperation to find something - anything - negative to say about the US.

But - again quoting Mark Steyn - Anti Americanism is the prism through which everything at the Herald has to be viewed.

Posted by: The Mongrel at December 8, 2003 at 10:27 AM

Anti-terrorist demonstrations in Baghdad!

And the tenterhooks of quotation marks for “France” (Vichy) & its “press organizations” (Agence France-Presse)!

Now I think I’ll go have me a DEE-licious turkey hero sandwich, mmm-MMM!

Posted by: ForNow at December 8, 2003 at 10:45 AM

For lunch!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at December 8, 2003 at 11:45 AM

he used the word QUAGMIRE in it's correct context! WOW!

Posted by: roscoe at December 8, 2003 at 12:49 PM

It was already evening in Queens, where I dwell. Long live the Borough & County of Queens.

I am hungry again. Now for some Chinese. I mean, Asian.

Posted by: ForNow at December 8, 2003 at 01:25 PM

I have solved the puzzle of the conflicting observations reported by Paul McGeough and Zeyad.
The fact is that Iraqis are conflicted, both within each self and between themselves, about the US presence and the Baathist insurgency. This follows the pattern of conflict-propagation set by citizens of the Mesopotamian region, going as far back as Hammurabai.
We have all experienced inner conflict, mostly over matters of no great consequence eg more beer or more exercise, Blair or Quiggin?
Unfortunately, conflict when AK 47s are freely available is a lot more expensive.
It only takes one spanner in the works to bring a factory to a grinding halt.
As the history of the Middle East shows, if only a few thousand conflicted young men take up arms they can turn a whole nation into a shambles.
That is why the US is turning to the methods employed by the IDF in order to control the insurgency.
A fairly ominous portent, and one that cannot be continued once US main forces leave.
Which implies that they will not leave in any kind of hurry, or if they do, the Shiite majority will have to resort to Hussein's tactics to quell that Suuni minority.
How the worm turns.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at December 8, 2003 at 02:18 PM

Andrew Sullivan, Are We Winning In Iraq? Dec. 1, 2003

...The best analysis, as usual, came from John F Burns in yesterday's NYT. He uses a simple conversation to unpeel the layers of deception, self-interest, self-deception and fear that now envelop Iraqi society. It seems to me obvious that in this war, unlike the war against al Qaeda, capturing or killing the central figure, Saddam, is the sine qua non of continuing progress.

NOTE: John F. Burns’ NY Times article is now in fee-charging archive, so I changed Sullivan’s link in the above excerpt to the same article free at the International Herald Tribune.

Excerpt from Burns’ article:

Alawi: "By the grace of Allah, peace be upon him, Saddam will kick the Americans out."

The men were asked if reports of Saddam's brutality, and of mass graves, were American fictions. They spoke softly to each other, then resumed.

Jasim: "Well, O.K., we didn't love Saddam; we have to be honest about it. He was a man of war, and only war: Because of him, I served 12 years in the army, I fought in Iran and Kuwait, I saw many of my fellow Iraqis killed, and what did we get? Nothing! It was a big mistake to attack Iran, and then to invade Kuwait, and it is as a result of that that men like me have seen their lives waste away."

Posted by: ForNow at December 8, 2003 at 04:42 PM

Agh, forgot that, here, italics don’t automatically stay activated till you turn them off. Instead you have to add italics tags to each paragraph that you want italicized. All three of the paragraphs after “Excerpt from Burns’ article:” form a single excerpt.

Posted by: ForNow at December 8, 2003 at 04:46 PM

"up to 1,000 Iraqis" -

whoa, now that's impressive. Pity that number is dwarfed by just about every other protest in Iraq ever.

And pardon my cynicism, but how spontaneous was this march anyway? Given the rent-a-crowd that turned up for the first statue pull-down, this is not a facetious question.

Posted by: fatfingers at December 8, 2003 at 07:35 PM

"rent-a-crowd" -- yawn. You have just made yourself irrelevant.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at December 8, 2003 at 09:29 PM
Pity that number is dwarfed by just about every other protest in Iraq ever.

The real pity is that just about every other protest in Iraq in the last 30 years was forced on the participants at gunpoint by Saddam's troops.

Posted by: tom beta 2 at December 9, 2003 at 12:13 AM