Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Daily Grind

After the post below, I took a look at Baghdad Burning, and was happy to see that Riverbend found time to write. As always, I'll recommend just linking to her site, but if you're short of time, here are some highlights:

There really is no good excuse for what happened [the attack on the car carrying Guiliana Sgrena to the Baghdad airport]. I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what the Pentagon will say short of an admission that it was either on purpose or that the soldiers who fired at the car were drunk or high on something…

I have a feeling it will be the usual excuse, “The soldiers who almost killed the journalist were really, really frightened. They’ve been under lots of pressure.” But see, Iraqis are frightened and under pressure too- we don’t go around accidentally killing people. We’re expected to be very level-headed and sane in the face of chaos...

I don’t understand why Americans are so shocked with this incident. Where is the shock? That Sgrena’s car was under fire? That Americans killed an Italian security agent? After everything that occurred in Iraq- Abu Ghraib, beatings, torture, people detained for months and months, the stealing, the rape… is this latest so very shocking? Or is it shocking because the victims weren’t Iraqi?

I’m really glad she’s home safe but at the same time, the whole situation is somewhat painful. It hurts because thousands of Iraqis have died at American checkpoints or face to face with a tank or Apache and beyond the occasional subtitle on some obscure news channel, no one knows about it and no one cares. It just hurts a little bit.

Riverbend also has some news about an ugly incident in a Baghdad hospital, where Iraqi National Guard personnel beat up doctors and nurses during an argument over a lack of space to treat wounded people. And, she tries her hand at a bit of snark, suggesting (tongue in cheek, of course) that Ahmad Chalabi should be nominated for the Nobel Prize:

“You know who’s really bad? Ahmed Chalabi. He’s such a lowlife and villain.”

Voila. Like magic the air clears, eyebrows are raised in agreement and all arguing parties suddenly unite to confirm this very valid opinion with nodding heads, somewhat strained laughter and charming anecdotes about his various press appearances and ridiculous sense of fasion. We’re all friends again, and family once more. We’re all lovey-dovey Iraqis who can agree nicely with each other. In short, we are at peace with each other and the world…

And that is why Ahmed Chalabi deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

In addition, she provides a link to Imad Khadduri, who in this post cuts through the bullshit:

Despite all the rhetoric about "building a new democracy", daily life for most Iraqis is still a struggle for survival, with human rights abuses engulfing them. A typical Iraqi day begins with the struggle to get the basics: petrol, a cylinder of gas, fresh water, food and medication. It ends with a sigh of relief: Alhamdu ilah (thanks, God), for surviving death threats, violent attacks, kidnappings and killings.

For ordinary Iraqis, simply venturing into the streets brings the possibility of attack. Most killings go unreported. With no names, no faces, no identities, they cease to be human beings. They are "the enemy", "collateral damage" or, at best, statistics to argue about.

That, in a nutshell, is why we're losing in Iraq. I've mentioned before, and will say again, that one interesting observation about the right-wing/pro-war crowd is that they've never taken seriously the people they're ostensibly liberating. No, the whole concept behind Iraq was a mix and match of various elements--the greater glory of the dauphin, the agenda of PNAC, blind rage about "terrorism" with more than a little racism to boot, etc., etc.,--but the "suffering Iraqi people" are an afterthought to these folks--Khadduri captures this perfectly: "statistics to argue about." As long as the number killed is "less than Hussen's total," then everything is just fine by them.

That's hardly a formula for success.

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