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Mosul burns
April 14, 2003 7:04 PM   Subscribe

"This isn't freedom, this is bullshit"
posted by delmoi (52 comments total)

 
This isn't metafilter, this is...

Aw, forget it.
posted by Samsonov14 at 7:12 PM on April 14, 2003


I agree with you, but hey, give us more then one link to a Salon article I have to pay for, and tell us a little about why it's bullshit.

The US had made a promise to make things better, let's hope we can.
posted by jbou at 7:15 PM on April 14, 2003


Perhaps there should be a note (ala NYTimes) that this is Salon Premium content, which at least asks you to watch a flash ad to read the content. A flash ad that won't forward Opera to the actual article, as it happens.

Text of original post: This isn't an FPP, this is Salon.
posted by fnord_prefect at 7:16 PM on April 14, 2003


hmmm,
lets analyze this one...
Salon Premium link to yet another story about rioting in Iraq, and thats it, all you really did was pick an overly inflammatory quote that may or may not be in the article. (No I didn't read the article, because I don't feel like paying for it). I'd hide before they drag ya into metatalk for a stern tongue lashing.

On Preview I really must learn to gather my wits faster.
posted by Restlessavenger at 7:19 PM on April 14, 2003


Thanks guys, that's what I was trying to say.
posted by Samsonov14 at 7:20 PM on April 14, 2003


The fact that Salon.com continues to push basic newspaper articles as "Premium Content" is bullshit.

I remember a mirror posted by a Salon member sometime ago, did that get shut down [did that person get prosecuted, anyone, anyone?].
posted by phylum sinter at 7:23 PM on April 14, 2003


You don't have to pay, damnit. You don't even have to watch the freakin' ad. Just click at the bottom of the ad page where it says 'Click here if you're having trouble seeing this ad' and you'll be whisked in seconds to the article in question. Two clicks is too hard?

That said, yeah, this is a little redundant. Better linked in the body of the thread 3 doors down, probably.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:24 PM on April 14, 2003


I disagree with everyone. (Another tagline.) I was ready to get pissed off until I realized that (as stavros says) you don't have to pay, just have a moment's patience, and when I got to the article I was glad I did. This is great reporting, not just another looting story, and well worth your time if you care at all about what's going on over there and what it's like trying to cover it. Thanks, delmoi.
posted by languagehat at 7:28 PM on April 14, 2003


I agree with languagehat on the story and second what stavros said on Salon Premium--What, you need someone to click the remote for you when you watch TV, you lazy candyasses?
posted by y2karl at 7:35 PM on April 14, 2003


Hey, WarFilter or not, Salon Premium or not, I am extremely relieved to have found this story on MetaFilter and not some warblog.

All the bitching and sarcasm in the world is better than the insanity that shows up in other sites' comments sections.

If you really hate this post, just pretend it's about Sydney instead of Mosul, and that it is a Road Warrior fan fiction. I found it fascinating. ^_^
posted by son_of_minya at 7:38 PM on April 14, 2003


Even if it is great reporting, it's still a crappy post here.
posted by smackfu at 7:39 PM on April 14, 2003


ooh, someone clicking the remote for me.


that would be sweet.
posted by joedan at 7:41 PM on April 14, 2003


Eleven comments about whether the post should exist. Zero comments about the post.

[on preview: twelve. And this makes thirteen]
posted by ook at 7:44 PM on April 14, 2003


Hey, ook, I commented about the post. I thought it was a great story. Maybe I was a little insensitive in comparing it to fiction, but I seriously was moved by this story.

Languagehat commented on it, too.
posted by son_of_minya at 7:50 PM on April 14, 2003


Good post. son_of_minya, that sort of thing has occurred to me too - hell, it's out of a dystopian sci-fi vision when this sort of thing is happening and people bitch about having to watch an ad to read about it.
posted by GriffX at 7:50 PM on April 14, 2003


I read the story, and all I have to say is this isn't what the public is seeing on TV.
posted by jbou at 7:59 PM on April 14, 2003


I would like to mention that that is a beautifully written account, and some damned fine reportage. Salon ads or no Salon ads, please take the time to read that story.
posted by GriffX at 8:01 PM on April 14, 2003


jbou, which public and which tv are you talking about?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:02 PM on April 14, 2003


I read the story, and all I have to say is this isn't what the public is seeing on TV.

Well, it is salon.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 8:03 PM on April 14, 2003


I agree, Dennis. Salon's in financial trouble, so with any luck they'll be bought out by AOL-TW or Rupert - then we won't have to be exposed to any unpleasantness when we scan the web for the latest warscores.
posted by GriffX at 8:10 PM on April 14, 2003


Ooooh. You got me griffx. I'm not a fan of salon because I don't like seeing, as you put it, 'unpleasantness'.

That just has to be the reason I don't like salon. What other reason could there be?
posted by Dennis Murphy at 8:13 PM on April 14, 2003


That just has to be the reason I don't like salon. What other reason could there be?

I'm offering you this crisp twenty dollar bill not to tell us.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:58 PM on April 14, 2003


For those of you two lazy to click the "I'm having trouble viewing this ad" link, or *gasp* actualy look at the add, here's the relavant section containing the quote.

While the armed gangs looted the bank, I walked down the street and stood with the onlookers. An angry crowd of Iraqis formed around me. Baravan stayed nearby for translation, and kept it together under the most uncertain and screwed-up circumstances I've ever put a translator through. He told the angry crowd who I was. The Arabic word for journalist is sahafi, and Baravan said it many times to convince them I was not a soldier. But it didn't matter -- only the country of origin mattered to them. They wanted to know where I was from, so I told them the truth. When they heard it, they leaned in, and when new men joined the circle, the others told them I was American.

This new information changed everything, and the men in the back rows grabbed my arms to get my attention. They became more urgent, and all spoke at once. The first man said, "Look, the peshmerga are destroying my city"; he wanted to show me what they had done to his home. Baravan told him in Arabic that it was not true. A young man named Rafiq was panicking in a terrible way and said in a broken voice, "Where are the American forces? We want to stop this situation. There is stealing and looting and we need safety. WHERE ARE THE AMERICANS?"

Rafiq was pleading with me, desperate, and I said they were coming. "When are they coming, what time?" I told him that I didn't know exactly. The crowd just shouted more questions and reached out to grab me, pointing at my notebook. Panic spread. Baravan stood his ground and tried to calm them down. Another man shouted, "Stop the killing. Stop the killing." A long burst of gunfire from the bank quieted everything for a moment. The crowd took the moment to check and see if it was time to run away. We looked to the street and saw gunmen throwing sacks of money into a car and speeding down the road. They kept their weapons leveled at the crowd to make sure they wouldn't have any problems.

"This isn't freedom, this is bullshit," a kid said to me. It was like the report of a rifle.


The rest of the story is quite interesting, but it was that singular quote that resonated with me the most.
posted by delmoi at 9:13 PM on April 14, 2003


I'm offering you this crisp twenty dollar bill not to tell us.

Give it to salon. After all, they've been going out of business for two years! And I know you'd be crushed:(
posted by Dennis Murphy at 9:21 PM on April 14, 2003


Interesting quote. And the article? I particularly liked the way so much attention was paid to context - painting the complete picture. You know, things like not just focusing on an isolated day, but talking about how the looting - that is already subsiding - might have come about due to a small number of people living in palaces while the rest of the population often ate little other than bread, or the conditions in the country for a decade and a half under Saddam's rule ... where a kid might have been more likely to say "this ain't freedom, this is sheer, brutal physical torture" ... and the kid's statement wouldn't have been "like" the report of a rifle, but (if it was overheard by the Republican Guard) would have resulted in the actual "report of a rifle".
posted by MidasMulligan at 9:47 PM on April 14, 2003


The fact that Salon.com continues to push basic newspaper articles as "Premium Content" is bullshit

You pay for the damn newspaper, don't you? Without paper circulation, they do have to make money somehow.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:54 PM on April 14, 2003


Sacking the Past

In response to questions about the museum looting,
Donald Rumsfeld said: "We didn't allow it to happen. It happened."
But the point is that we did not prevent it from happening.

posted by y2karl at 9:55 PM on April 14, 2003


You pay for the damn newspaper, don't you?

Well, no.
posted by kindall at 10:58 PM on April 14, 2003


and then there were none.
posted by kjh at 1:21 AM on April 15, 2003


Does it seem a tad strange to you that the allied forces were able to secure the hundreds of oil fields, but they couldn't secure a few hospitals? Does this fact reflect the true drive behind this war on ahem terror perhaps?
posted by DrDoberman at 2:43 AM on April 15, 2003




MidasMulligan: Only a small percentage of Iraqi's were ever harmed by the government, as compared to a rather large percentage that could be harmed by the looting.

I would prefer violent anarchy to a police state, but given the popularity of the bush administration, foister of the patriot act, most Americans would not. Its entirely possible that for the vast majority of Iraqi's, the rule of Saddam would be preferable to anarchy.
posted by delmoi at 4:02 AM on April 15, 2003


It's so wonderful to see Iraqis liberating all those material goods that have been subject to the cruel dictatorship of Saddam Hussein for so long!
Go Iraqis!
We now see what the Republicans were Guarding!

Seriously though, it is a strange juxtaposition to see that US troops secured the oil fields but not hospitals, secured the Ministry of Oil but not museums, secured the Ministry of Information but not universities. Just saying it looks really bad.
posted by nofundy at 5:11 AM on April 15, 2003


MidasMulligan Why stop there? How about the part where Rummy was sent to give some stern pats in the back to Saddam about his use of chemical weapons in the war against Iraq? Or, more recently during Gulf War I, how the "allies" screwed up the Iraqi population big time by inciting them to raise against Saddam only to have a last-minute change of heart and make sure that Saddam kept the necessary helicopters to "ensure law and order in the land"? Or, further away, how the country was designed to have oil fields but a minuscule access to sea - making sure that the Brits could steal all they wanted from the Iraqis?

Of course, if it just a matter of preferences, I do understand that your "snapshot big picture" adapts to your views better.
posted by magullo at 5:56 AM on April 15, 2003


I read the story, and all I have to say is this isn't what the public is seeing on TV.

Should try Channel Four in the UK. Failing that, the BBC are ok, if you can grit your teeth past the jolly propaganda.
posted by walrus at 6:14 AM on April 15, 2003


Its entirely possible that for the vast majority of Iraqi's, the rule of Saddam would be preferable to anarchy.

Yes ... but that isn't the choice. The choice is between the rule of Saddam and a few days of anarchy, followed by self- government.

Those damn incompetent Americans ... can't even win a war against Saddam and install a huge police force and transition to a totally ordered, harmonious society all at once.

Thing is, this is merely one in a long line of anti-US posts ... in which every minute detail of what the US does is dissected and (of course) found wanting. If the US had imposed martial law, curfews, and a severe crackdown on looting, all we'd be hearing about - from these same people - is how heavy handed and overbearing the US was being.
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:22 AM on April 15, 2003


At least under Mussolini Saddam the trains ran on time office supplies were well guarded!
posted by rusty at 6:23 AM on April 15, 2003


Those damn incompetent Americans

This is a coalition force MidasMulligan, there was looting in the British controlled city of Basra too. It seems incredulous to most that post regime law and order was not considered by the invading liberating forces is all.
posted by DrDoberman at 6:42 AM on April 15, 2003


Don't know if this will work, but try clicking here to get DayPass access automatically.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:06 AM on April 15, 2003


in which every minute detail of what the US does is dissected and (of course) found wanting

Would you prefer to dwell on the yet-to-be-found-and-once-the-major-excuse-for-war WMDs issue? Or is that another minute detail?

how heavy handed and overbearing the US was being

Imagine that! All they did was preemptively invade a country against the opinion of peers and they get called heavy-handed and overbearing! The gall!
posted by magullo at 7:17 AM on April 15, 2003


After all, they've been going out of business for two years!

And soon people will be saying they've been going out of business for three. How does that work, exactly? Predictions of imminent doom should include an expiration date.

Thousands of dot-com businesses have been launched, funded, and failed in the time since Salon began operations, and at some point their continued non-failure should begin to be appreciated as a tenacious achievement of will. (And, of course, spending.)
posted by rcade at 7:24 AM on April 15, 2003


I don't think anyone anticipated that the riches of Iraq would be looted by the Iraqi people. I don't know what is more scary: the glaring information gaps of the "we know better" crowd or their shameless "we have no clue about yet another major issue" answers.
posted by magullo at 7:37 AM on April 15, 2003


Yes ... but that isn't the choice. The choice is between the rule of Saddam and a few days of anarchy, followed by self- government.

So, Iraq will be self-governing within a few days? So they'll just get up tomorrow and write a constitution. Thursday they'll elect a Parliament and Friday they'll be seated. And the US will allow this government to be constituted in any way the Iraqis choose, like for example, if they decide they want a socialist state or to establish Islam as the state religion. And the US will recognize all the decisions of this body: so, for example, if they nationalize the oil fields and commit the revenue to reconstruction, education, hostpitals, we'd be cool with that. They'd be perfectly at liberty to engage say, French firms to develop and manage their oil fields because Iraq will be a free and sovereign nation and we respect that, right?

I look forward to reading about how all this went in this weekend's Sunday papers.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:00 AM on April 15, 2003


Yes ... but that isn't the choice. The choice is between the rule of Saddam and a few days of anarchy, followed by self- government.

Even if Iraq quickly gets on its feet and begins self-governance, there is no guarantee that the nation can and will continue on such a path. Witness Papua New Guinea, where, even after a long colonial building period under Australia, the country collapsed into anarchy, bad enough that the Peace Corps pulled out all volunteers last year (or the year before; can't remember exactly). In current post-colonial Africa, examples of dictatorships, civil wars (this may prove to be especially prescient, given the number of competing factions in Iraq), and anarchies abound. I won't argue the relative merits of living under a dictator/living under violent mob-rule anarchy, but I think we can agree that both are pretty bad.

I'm not saying that any of these cases will necessarily occur in Iraq, but they are distinct possibilities. Research by the US Army War College estimates that rebuilding will need "a post-conflict Iraq US Army requirement of 65,000-80,000 personnel plus additional coalition forces. The US led, UN supported, military occupation is expected to last a minimum of five years and possibly as many as ten . . ." (source [with link to PDF]); the administration doesn't seem to be interested in providing that kind of support. Thus, a fully-functioning self-government in Iraq is absolutely not a certainty in this situation.
posted by The Michael The at 8:27 AM on April 15, 2003




Ho, ho, ho, meet MohammedSaeedAl-SahafMulligan:

Thing is, this is merely one in a long line of anti-US posts ... in which every minute detail of what the US does is dissected and (of course) found wanting.

Sacking of Baghdad Museum is now minor detail. And it's not like the Pentagon wasn't warned over and over: Pentagon Was Told Of Risk to Museums - U.S. Urged to Save Iraq's Historic Artifacts
In the months leading up to the Iraq war, U.S. scholars repeatedly urged the Defense Department to protect Iraq's priceless archaeological heritage from looters, and warned specifically that the National Museum of Antiquities was the single most important site in the country.
I quote again:
But the point is that we did not prevent it from happening.
If the US had imposed martial law, curfews, and a severe crackdown on looting, all we'd be hearing about - from these same people - is how heavy handed and overbearing the US was being.

You mean, of course. like the severe crackdown on looting imposed by the U.S. military at the Oil Ministry and the Interior Ministry, and God, look at the enormous uproar and reaction that caused from the Iraqis, I mean it's been all over the TV, radio, press and internet... Not.
posted by y2karl at 11:24 AM on April 15, 2003


First, there are a limited number of troops in Iraq. They can't guard everything.

Second, all of you two weeks ago were bitching and moaning about how we had severely underestimated the Iraqis, there would be intense urban combat for weeks if not months, etc. Is anyone surprised that the military took several days to jump from a full attack mode, fearful of immense casualties and heavy fighting, to a policing and occupying force?

Hold the Iraqi's to account. No one forced them to loot their own hospitals. No one forced them to loot museums. Am I surprised that Baathist offices were looted? No. But I am shocked and appalled that a population would loot its own health care centers and museums...

Midas, as always, I am impressed with your levelness.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:50 AM on April 15, 2003


First, there are a limited number of troops in Iraq. They can't guard everything.
Months before the invasion of Iraq, Pentagon war planners anticipated the fall of Saddam Hussein would usher in a period of chaos and lawlessness, but for military reasons, they chose to field a light, fleet invasion force that could not hope to quell such unrest when it emerged, Pentagon officials said yesterday.
I do hold the looters primarily accountable, but we had a duty to avert this predicted catastrophe, and we decided in advance not to try. I am appalled at the looters' behavior, but I am also appalled at how quickly my country has started washing its hands of its responsibilities.
posted by homunculus at 12:19 PM on April 15, 2003


Homunculus,

Wouldn't it be better to first understand why the looters are looting? And if what they're doing is really looting? Perhaps to us, but is it to them?

""I had no use for it, but since it belonged to the government of Saddam and was bought with my money, I thought I should try to take it when that government fell."

They feel they are liberating the goods and redistributing the wealth. But admittedly many of them went beyond that and started looting non-government premises and premises that benefited from government patronage (like the museums).

I think after so many years of oppression things like this are to be expected. But point taken, enough is enough.
posted by timyang at 9:38 PM on April 15, 2003


"There was no statue of Saddam, no celebrations. Armed men stood on the bank's steps; they milled around, while others ran and smashed their way into buildings. The men on the bank steps were not peshmerga; they were armed men, possibly former Iraqi soldiers or villagers -- we didn't know who they were."

They could be anybody. Iraqi civilians, or this could be where all the cowards that ran away from the 'coalition of the willing' went. This war ain't over. The enemy is just fighting it differently. They're attacking their own and then blaming the Americans for it.

Imagine. Tomorrow where YOU live, suddenly there's no police no law no nothing. Would you pillage your own home? Would you attack your neighbors? No.

You don't shit where you sleep.

If you were interested in pillaging, you would leave your own home, go somewhere else to get crap, and then take it to your home or some neutral place where you could protect it. I don't think it's Iraqis looting their own community. Or at least, it's different factions of Iraqis moving from their neighborhood to another. Or it's the mercenary bastards that signed on with Saddam or people forced into fighting for Saddam who are now just trying to take advantage of the situation so they can get what they believe they deserve. It's Robin Hood's philosophy taken to its ultimate extreme.

This is not just Iraqi civilians shitting where they sleep. It's more complicated and deliberate and shameful than is readily being reported, because even the imbedded journalists can't see it. No one's wearing signs or uniforms. The bad guys are pretending to be the victims we claim to have tried going in there to save.

It was a trap. We fell for it. We've been had.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:50 PM on April 15, 2003


But I am shocked and appalled that a population would loot its own health care centers and museums...

What about if, for decades, the aforementioned places were only allowed to be used by Baathist party members? The line isn't that bright between "good" and "bad" looting.

calm down. This is Salon's leftist soul at work.

Also, I have a solution: distribute millions of flyers which say GIVE A HOOT. DON'T LOOT!
posted by ParisParamus at 4:33 AM on April 16, 2003


What about if, for decades, the aforementioned places were only allowed to be used by Baathist party members? The line isn't that bright between "good" and "bad" looting.

What about if, for my entire life, the local synagogue was only allowed to be used by Jews? Does that mean that I, as a non-Jew, have a right to loot said synagogue? Should homeless people be allowed to loot, say, the Guggenheim museums? (yes, they're not banned by law from such a place, but I've never seen one allowed in. Have you?)

What is your justification for saying that they have *any* right to loot a cultural institution? That's ludicrous.
posted by The Michael The at 12:17 PM on April 16, 2003


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