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Not All Iraqis Dancing in the Streets.
March 22, 2003 10:50 PM   Subscribe

Not All Iraqis Dancing in the Streets. To watch the neutered embedded reporters, you would think that every Iraqi is overjoyed to see America in his or her country. But the reality seems to be quite different: "Why are you here in this country? Are you trying to take over? Are you going to take our country forever? Are the Israelis coming next? Are you here to steal our oil? When are you going to get out?"
posted by owillis (35 comments total)

 
Why don't they trust us? After all we did for them! Somehow I don't see G.W. coming over to ride in a parade and make a re-election commercial anytime soon.
posted by y2karl at 11:10 PM on March 22, 2003


Of course they are concerned, but here's the thing under Saddams regime they wouldn't have even dared complain. Once the aid gets there (and it will) they'll be happier. Also NPR was reporting that most injuries resulted from the useless anti aircraft fire falling into Baghdad and not from coalition munitions.
posted by zeoslap at 11:36 PM on March 22, 2003


Wow, seems no matter where you go, no matter the topic you just can't get 100 percent concensus. They have questions!

Shocking!
posted by Dennis Murphy at 11:40 PM on March 22, 2003


Guess what, Oliver...we won't be able to turn every single Iraqi citizen into an overnight sensation, complete with luxury SUV, millionaire-supermodel boy/girlfriend, and stable employment.

Doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
posted by davidmsc at 12:22 AM on March 23, 2003


I complain about the media as much as anyone in the country, but I don't think I'd refer to anyone in media as "Satan," at least not to his or her face. And the reporter's being called that because he's with an American news service, not because he's a reporter. (I could see many Americans jokingly but bitterly calling a reporter "the Antichrist," but I kinda doubt that's what's going on here.) Complaining is one thing, raw animosity is another. The situation could very well change with aid - Who the heck can say? Who has a crystal ball here? - but in the meantime this is information that conflicts with predictions of rose petals being hurled at coalition forces, etc.
posted by raysmj at 12:27 AM on March 23, 2003


Good post. This article is a breath of fresh air from the usual brand of detached (not to be confused with objective) journalism.

I can't help but think of the movie Three Kings, in which the Iraqi people received precious little support compared to what they were promised. Maybe it's a sad indication that my view of reality is derived from Hollywood, but I really liked the film. It gave me a glimpse of the relationship between Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi citizens, the US army and the media.
posted by FissionChips at 12:37 AM on March 23, 2003


The questions in the FFP reminded me of the Big Questions in "Babylon 5" (and its spin-offs):
"Who are you? What do you want? Where are you going? Who do you serve and who do you trust?"

Off-topic geek-out, I know, but if anybody's soldiers start marching into my town, I couldn't think of a more succinct set of queries.
posted by wendell at 12:38 AM on March 23, 2003


overnight sensation, complete with luxury SUV, millionaire-supermodel boy/girlfriend, and stable employment

Wow does that sound like hell or what?
posted by password at 1:09 AM on March 23, 2003


overnight sensation, complete with luxury SUV, millionaire-supermodel boy/girlfriend, and stable employment

Wow does that sound like hell or what?


I could imagine doing without the "sensation/millionaire" or the SUV (as long as one has adequate mass transit, as I do), but assuming the boy/girlfriend is interesting, intelligent, and funny, I don't imagine many would be terribly opposed to the situation. Especially if they were expecting to starve, be gassed, or otherwise tortured this summer instead.

If you want to oppose the war, that's fine. I do, too, but not because Iraqis will be worse off. This could have been seen as a just war by much of the world. The distinction between the just and "immoral/unethical" is merely the result of having Bush as president versus someone competent. I believe I could have mustered worldwide support for a forceful regime change within a year, and I'm nothing even remotely close to a diplomat. Bush failed us. He failed the US. He failed the UN, and he failed the world. A true leader would have made it our mission as a civilization. A hack like Bush has managed to make it appear to be a corrupt foray in politicking. BUT that doesn't mean that the current situation is not a net positive. It should have been handled better, and we should let the administration know that, but the world will likely be a better place a year from now -- especially if you are an Iraqi.
posted by justin at 3:02 AM on March 23, 2003


For years we were told that Americans were harming Iraquis by our imposed sanctions, now, the war 2 days old and forces not even within 100 miles of Baghdad, we are told by the starving people they are pissed ecause we have not yet given them aid....take a number, pal, and wait as you did while Saddam was the handout guy.
posted by Postroad at 3:30 AM on March 23, 2003


I find it quite impressive, wendell, that you had to have a TV show deliver those hard-hitting questions to you. Is the truth out there?
posted by ttrendel at 3:35 AM on March 23, 2003


yeah, of course the iraqis are going to be suspicious, nobody can blame them for that. if things are going to change in such a big way, anyone might get freaked out, and have doubts. maybe we won't do right by them, maybe we will. history doesn't really provide any good precedents where the west has done right by countries where it has intervened. but i can't help thinking anything has got to be better than hussain.
here's a story i saw the other day which is quite interesting. it does show that, without question, there are many terrible consequences of intervention, but the headline is what caught my eye.

'You're late. What took you so long? God help you become victorious. I want to say hello to Bush, to shake his hand.'
posted by mokey at 6:37 AM on March 23, 2003


Well, I can certainly understand why some folks would want to look high and low to find any evidence that at least some Iraqis somewhere weren't overjoyed at the US entering the country. A significant amount of the case the protesters were trying to make is that they speak on "behalf of the Iraqi people". Gets more and more difficult to make that case when the majority of the Iraqi people aformentioned seem to have their own strong opinions about whether to join the pro or anti side of the issue ... and it turns out that it is George Bush's hand - not Susan Sarandon's - that they want to shake.
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:54 AM on March 23, 2003


protesters were trying to make is that they speak on "behalf of the Iraqi people".

Yeah, regardless of my opinion on the war, it does always amuse me to hear Ameircans of any particular stripe talk about their solidarity with the third world. Makes me think of this old onion piece.
posted by jonmc at 7:42 AM on March 23, 2003


And MidasMulligan is not speaking on behalf of the Iraqi people by making up a story about how protestors are? I'm sure they'll be kissing American hands much as they now do in Afghanistan--where there were demonstrations against the War yesterday, the ingrates! And after all we've for them! coughfundamentalistwarlordsruneverythingbutKabulcough

Dissent: Antiwar and Postwar, Too? You Bet

The second face of the antiwar movement is entirely non-radical, pragmatically opposed to the administration's doctrine of preemptive war and alarmed at its contempt for diplomacy. We might call this the "realist" antiwar movement, after the realist school of foreign policy.

Interestingly, while it had echoes in street demonstrations, the prolonged debate about whether to go to war was conducted entirely within the American mainstream. The realist foreign policy school is not opposed to the use of military power. But it values international institutions and international law, not for reasons of idealism but out of plain self-interest. James Fallows, writing in the Atlantic Monthly last November, used extensive interviews to show that many foreign policy hawks are alarmed by the administration's views on preemption and unilateralism. From this viewpoint, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, Vice President Cheney et al. are the radicals. They just happen to be running the U.S. government.


...Yet even if the war is over quickly, the Bush administration will be under tremendous pressure from forces at home and abroad to repudiate unilateralism and preemptive war. It's also worth recalling that every American president in this century who has led a war -- even successful ones with clean aftermaths -- has seen his party rejected at the polls not long afterward, most recently Bush's father. And this war's aftermath is likely to be messier than most.

I wonder how many of those kids didn't vote in 2000 and 2002--and will in 2004.
posted by y2karl at 8:18 AM on March 23, 2003


Well, about how the protestors say they are, for sure
--care to source that fable, Midas?
posted by y2karl at 8:22 AM on March 23, 2003


call mick jagger and david bowie, we'll have those iraqis dancing in the streets in no time.
posted by quonsar at 8:30 AM on March 23, 2003


history doesn't really provide any good precedents where the west has done right by countries where it has intervened.

I know, Japan is such a hell-hole.
posted by Mick at 8:33 AM on March 23, 2003


Read again Karl: amuse me to hear Ameircans of any particular stripe talk about their solidarity with the third world talk.

I'm starting to choke on all the words people keep stuffing into my mouth.
posted by jonmc at 8:33 AM on March 23, 2003


we won't be able to turn every single Iraqi citizen into an overnight sensation, complete with luxury SUV, millionaire-supermodel boy/girlfriend, and stable employment.

oh...is that what democracy is all about? hmm.
posted by mcsweetie at 8:35 AM on March 23, 2003


Well, about how the protestors say they are, for sure
--care to source that fable, Midas?


Well, for one, I sat in front of Macy's yesterday watching the march up Broadway in NYC. Plenty of signs about the innocent Iraqis they were deeply concerned about. One woman with a bullhorn was shouting that "1/3 of the Iraqi population is under 21" (no, I don't know what her source is), from which she concluded that one out of every three people that die will be a "child". She didn't mention that Americans were going out of their way to hit only military targets, while most the Iraqi women and children that die will die because they've been ordered to stand as human shields - so Saddam can show the world video of poor innocent people the US has killed.
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:58 AM on March 23, 2003


A significant amount of the case the protesters were trying to make is that they speak on "behalf of the Iraqi people". Gets more and more difficult to make that case ...

Yeah, and a significant amount of the case the Admin made for this war/invasion/liberation was that Saddam had oodles of WMD. I will be waiting for the unveiling of those by the warriors/invaders/liberators. (And waiting. And waiting?)

BTW quonsar, how the hell young are you? It's Martha and the Vandellas dancin in the streets. Classic Motown. Accept no imitations.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:13 AM on March 23, 2003


Rummy keeps referring to "the liberated Iraqi people." To which I reply
The question is, which Iraqi people? Kurds in the north fighting the Turks, Shi'ites in the south gravitating toward Iran, Bedouin sheepherders wandering across borders who grin and wave at the T-55s going out and equally at the 7th Cav coming in, Ba'athist Tikriti mobsters and their Syrian pals, the poor bastards in the cities who can't afford to bribe the thugs to get the hell out of the way as the Fedayeen fight in civilian clothes, it's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world that will tend inexorably toward Balkanization ... Some, maybe even most, of these people are going to love us, but some are going to drive carbombs into our HQ. Sorting them out is going to be a messy, expensive, bloody job. With all due respect, it's possible to oppose the war without supporting the Butcher of Baghdad. We Americans were the ones who left him in place, with aircraft carriers to keep him on a tight leash, back in 1991. I'm not convinced the mess we're getting into is the wise decision at this point from the point of view of Realpolitik, and as I listen to Rumsfeld talking to Wolf Blitzer linking this war to the 9-11 attacks, I'm not convinced there's a clear moral authority to justify it. As a local Arabic-language newspaper editor said recently , "We don't weep for Saddam at all, but the fact is that other Arab governments who are nominally supporting this war are just as bad."
posted by hairyeyeball at 10:05 AM on March 23, 2003


For years we were told that Americans were harming Iraquis by our imposed sanctions, now, the war 2 days old and forces not even within 100 miles of Baghdad, we are told by the starving people they are pissed ecause we have not yet given them aid....take a number, pal, and wait as you did while Saddam was the handout guy.

postroad's compassion for anyone who isn't israeli shines through yet again.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:11 AM on March 23, 2003


Three things:

In America, protest is the rule--other than during World War II perhaps, this country has always been divided in time of war. If you think we're doing the wrong thing, or doing the right thing the wrong way and you want to Support Our Troops by sparing their lives, you speak up. Support Our Troops /= Shut up and follow party line. Never has, never will.

After a few years of occupation, no Iraqis will be blowing us kisses. On the bright side, it's a bull market for al Queda recruiters from now on...

Instead of speaking for Iraqis, let some Iraqis speak for themselves.
posted by y2karl at 10:25 AM on March 23, 2003


Owillis, I hope to read your mea culpa soon after the conflict is over and we start reading details about the Baath Party's rape rooms and running prisoners through plastic shredders feet-first.

I'm not holding my breath, though...
posted by darren at 11:43 AM on March 23, 2003


call mick jagger and david bowie, we'll have those iraqis dancing in the streets in no time.

All they need are good energy and Muppets.
posted by homunculus at 12:00 PM on March 23, 2003


>Yeah, regardless of my opinion on the war, it does always amuse me to hear Ameircans of any particular stripe talk about their solidarity with the third world.

Yes, its *hilarious.* Considering its their tax money, their leaders, and war done in their name that will pay for the burning sulpher that will eat the skin of thousands of civllians and soldiers perhaps they're entitled to express their opinion?

Oh and if retaliation ever makes it to our shores it won't be Bush and Wolfowitz getting blown up, it'll be Joe and Mary Sixpack. Arguably, their opinion should matter the most.
posted by skallas at 12:50 PM on March 23, 2003


northernlite, i am approaching 50. cover tunes is a concept not unknown to me. but consider: the mental mtv image of bowie and jagger waggling thier scrawny little pooters and making fishlips at each other actually requires a crowd of jubilant dancers in desert garb, perhaps leading a camel or two. martha simply can't touch 'dis, vandellas and all. we thank you for your patronage.
posted by quonsar at 2:50 PM on March 23, 2003


there was also a van halen effort, but heh, those guys are just to white-bread-ken-doll straight. no, it hadda be mick 'n dave.
posted by quonsar at 2:53 PM on March 23, 2003


Owillis, I hope to read your mea culpa soon after the conflict is over and we start reading details about the Baath Party's rape rooms and running prisoners through plastic shredders feet-first.

That's a cheap shot, Darren. You can be for the idea of militarily deposing Saddam and yet be against this war for the way it came about. We all know the horrors of Saddam--we read. We don't love Saddam anymore than you love the true victor in this war--Osama bin Laden.

I will say this as often as I can from now on:

In America, protest is the rule: this country has always been divided--never united--in time of war, except perhaps during World War II. And then we were attacked. Now we are attacking and attacking against the wishes of the world.

Abraham Lincoln opposed the Mexican War. Mark Twain was against the Spanish-American War. They opposed those wars while they were being fought. If you think we're doing the wrong thing, or we are doing the right thing the wrong way and you want to Support Our Troops by sparing their lives, you speak up.

Support Our Troops /= Shut up and follow party line. Not in this country. Never has, never will. We are the greatest Democracy in the world. You want a country that speaks in one voice, move to a dictatorship, because the only time people speak in one voice is when they have a gun pointed at their head--like in Iraq.

Here's a dissenting opinion, written in the Spring 2003 issue of Parameter, the US Army War College Quarterly; The Bush Doctrine and War with Iraq by Jeffery Record:

If intelligent soldiers or military historians can oppose this war, so can anyone else. Don't demonize people who disagree with you, don't accuse them of feeling anything other than grief and a gratitude that their young men and women's sacrifice was given from love of country, albeit in a cause beneath the greatness of this nation, a cause which puts us further in danger. The ends justify the means is commie talk--this war is reckless, illegal, it endangers us..

Slurring those who disagree with you for things they are not doing is not supporting the troops, it is an false and malicious attack. It doesn't help any man or woman in the service giving into irrational emotional ranting.
We all support the troops. Bring them home now.
posted by y2karl at 2:56 PM on March 23, 2003


Iraqis in Exile Against War - Open Statement of August 2002:
We are told a war on Iraq is needed to pre-empt a threat to the region and to free the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussain's tyranny. We as Iraqis already free from that tyranny, living outside Iraq and in the western democracies, say that both these claims are false. As professionals, writers, teachers and other responsible and concerned citizens, many of whom have personally experienced the persecution of the dictatorship in Iraq, we say: "no to war; not in our name, not in the name of the suffering Iraqi people".
posted by talos at 4:10 PM on March 23, 2003


Summer's not here, so the time's not right for dancing in the streets.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:44 PM on March 23, 2003


It can get unseasonably warm, so time is indeterminate.
posted by y2karl at 7:01 PM on March 23, 2003


talos, I live in the Detroit area, not too far from Dearborn, which has the largest Arab-American -- including Iraqi -- population in this country. I also happen to work with and live near many Iraqi exiles. While they were strongly opposed to years of U.N. sanctions ("Stop Sanctions On Iraq" bumper stickers were ubiquitous), they are equally in favor of this military action to dethrone Saddam Hussein. Local and national news interviews conducted at local mosques show jubilant Iraqis who cannot wait for Saddam to be overthrown, and look forward to returning to their homeland.

I guess the point is that notwithstanding the "not in our name" piece, the word on the Arab-American "street" is much different. This fact -- as much as anything else -- has affected my view of this war.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:11 AM on March 24, 2003


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