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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Iraq: views from inside « Previous | |Next »
August 25, 2003

The individual voices within Iraq provide different perspectives to the standard neo-con script. That script says the US has established security throughout Iraq; the economy is up and running; Arab public opinion is pro the US as it has embraced the liberation of Iraq from tyranny; the escalating violence is from a few Baarth leftovers and the Governing Council is seen as legitimate by the Iraqi people.

Given the script, we then have the public debate with sceptical lefties. And David over at Oxblog sees himself as winning the debate with the likes of Josh Marshall.

Winning the debate? It is more important to understand what is actually happening in Iraq.

We can gain a little insight into this from the individual voices in Iraq. First there was Salem Pax over Where is Raed? weblog. He also has some photos posted taken by his friend Gee. Salem also writes for the Guardian and is known as the Baghdad Blogger.

And we have this linking of the heat in Iraq to that in New York. I can understand the heat. We have it in Adelaide. It is around 40 degrees for a couple of months---but with cooling periods in the low 30s. It's been 4 months in Iraq. That would be very hard to live with.

Now we have this very interesting weblog from Iraq called Baghdad Burning. It is written by a now unemployed female computer graduate. (Link courtesy of Allan over at G'day Cobbers).

Both Salem Pax and Riverbend give us the human experience of life in Iraq. Riverbend, for instance, offers us a perspective from a liberal Iraqi who is a moderate Muslim, proud of her own culture and nationality, and lived in jeans and cotton pants and comfortable shirts. She provides a useful perspective to contrast with David's stance of winning the debate against lefties critical of the US policy. David says:

"Remember the good old days when our big concern about postwar Iraq was the potential for Shi'ite resistance to the occupation?
Well, even back then OxBlog was pointing out that anti-American violence was coming from the Sunni community, not the Shi'ites. So? The bottom line is that only that small minority who benefited from Saddam's rule seems interested in resisting the occupation."

In contrast, Riverbend experiences the current situation as an occupation, she wishes the UN would take control and the Americans move out. She describes the increase in increase of fundamentalism in Iraq which she finds terrifying. It is organized by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI):

"...whose main goal is to import the concept of the “Islamic Revolution” from Iran to Iraq. In other words, they believe that Iraq should be a theocracy led by Shi’a Mullahs. Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, the deputy leader of SCIRI, is a part of the nine-member rotating presidency and will soon have a go at ruling Iraq.

Ever since entering Iraq, Al-Hakim has been blackmailing the CPA in Baghdad with his ‘major Shi’a following’. He entered Iraq escorted by ‘Jaysh Badir’ or ‘Badir’s Army’. This ‘army’ is composed of thousands of Iraqi extremists led by Iranian extremists and trained in Iran. All through the war, they were lurking on the border, waiting for a chance to slip inside. In Baghdad, and the south, they have been a source of terror and anxiety to Sunnis, Shi’a and Christians alike. They, and some of their followers, were responsible for a large portion of the looting and the burning (you’d think they were going to get reconstruction contracts…). They were also responsible for hundreds of religious and political abductions and assassinations."

Poor Iraq.
Juan Cole has a paragraph or so on feminist organizations In Iraq speaking out on abductions (for slavery) and a substantial percentage of government jobs being reserved for women.

It's all a bit more complicated than winning the debate with lefties. It is the individual Iraqi voices that are silenced by the freedom versus totalitarian script coming out from Washington these days.

That script says that we're in a war on terrorism. When the civilized world expands democracy it's a challenge to the terrorists' totalitarian vision. And so they strike back with increasing terror. They're hoping the civilized world will flinch. But we're not going to flinch. We will stand firm etc etc.

It's more worthwhile to read the individual voices.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:41 PM | | Comments (2)


Good point. Frankly I find the incessant bickering and point-scoring to be the most boring part of the blogosphere.

I have being enjoying Paul McGeough's dispatches in the SMH. One of the things that has come out strongly in his pieces is the degree to which Iraq is still a tribal society- even after being being ruled by the Baathists for so long! I think I have seen the recently departed regime described as "fascist", but in this society I'm not sure if that word has any meaning. I like the "mafia" analogy better.

The US has a dangerous habit of believing its own propaganda, hopefully they won't fall for that this time.

I agree. Paul McGeough's work is the best journalism on Iraq by a long shot.
I wish their was more of it.