two down, one to go

  1. 5,748 Posts.
    Margaret Wente
    Globe and Mail, July 24, 2003

    It would be nice if Saddam's demented sons had been captured alive and turned over to some of their victims for a rousing public hanging. But perhaps it's just as well they're dead. They were a human stain, and now they're gone. There will be no 72 virgins to greet them at the gates of paradise. If there's any justice in the afterlife, Allah will be roasting them on a spit for all eternity.

    I liked the way they spun the news yesterday morning on the CBC. The death of these two thugs was good for--Tony Blair! This undoubtedly is true. It's also remarkably good news for the 24 million people in Iraq, and for U.S. reconstruction efforts there. It's convincing evidence that Saddam is never, ever going to come back.
    As for the situation in Iraq, I have a hunch it's going better than the daily dose of woe dished up by the media might lead us to believe. According to the media, Iraq is Vietnam, with an all-out guerrilla war, a hostile local population, anarchy in the streets, and American troops who are ready to frag the brass. But hey, the media's job is to report what went wrong yesterday. Bad news is good, and good news isn't news. Anything that shows imperialist America screwing up is good. Anything that vindicates imperialist America isn't newsworthy.

    [Here's] something else that went right yesterday. On the same day Uday and Qusay were mowed down, Paul Bremer, the temporary American ruler of Iraq, visited the United Nations with the brand-new interim Iraqi governing authority. The new council includes Kurds, Shiites and Christians, liberals, socialists, and Islamists of all stripes. It is the most pluralist political body in the Arab world… New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called its creation one of the most important events in modern times. All this happened with remarkable speed. It's been less than four months since American tanks rolled into Baghdad. And Mr. Bremer is still unpacking. "When I got to Baghdad three weeks ago," he said last week, "the city was on fire." Now, with luck, there could be elections within a year.

    Maybe it's the speeded-up world we live in, but I'm astonished how impatient people are. Saddam had 30 years to wreck the place, and now the U.S. is under fire because it hasn't fixed it up yet and got the hell out. The same people who darkly warned of "quagmire" in Week Two of the war are now blasting Paul Bremer for not having the air conditioning back on in Baghdad.

    One journalist who doesn't work for the network news is Amir Taheri, a London-based Iranian who has written 10 books on the Middle East… The violence against American troops, he wrote in the New York Post, is limited to a very small part of Iraqi territory dominated by Sunnis. Elsewhere, the coalition presence "is either accepted as a fact of life or welcomed."… Another person who went to see for himself is Reuel Gerecht, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "Though the problems in Iraq are enormous," he wrote in The Weekly Standard, "neither the country nor its American administrators appeared to be sliding downhill into chaos. In most of Iraq . . . just the opposite is happening." Some powerful local leaders complain of American heavy-handedness and ignorance. But he couldn't find any Shiite cleric who really wants the Americans to leave right away. Just the opposite: Many of them fear the Americans aren't going to interfere enough…

    As for the breathless and obsessional interest over uranium in Niger…give me a break. Most of this is opposition politicians playing politics and the media playing their favourite game of Gotcha. I am indeed intensely curious about what happened to the weapons of mass destruction--but it's worth pointing out that we've just destroyed two of the biggest ones. Their names were Uday and Qusay.

    Don't get me wrong. Iraq will be a three-Excedrin headache for a long time to come. Maybe it will all blow up. But please allow me a tiny scrap of optimism. It could be going a whole lot worse. And it's probably going a whole lot better than you'd think if you watched the news.
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