Saturday, January 08, 2005

Iraq Again...

It is too late to put up a silly title; my wit is fading with the day... But this is a good illustration of the progress being made in Iraq, at least in the sound bite department.

DESPERATE YET? A few quotations:

Essentially, it a list of quotes from September 2003 though January 2005 saying that the recent brutality of the terror attacks in Iraq must show that the insurgents must be getting desperate.

The war may not be a quagmire yet, but the PR is.

Atrios found it, I just stole it from him.

Read the blogs I posted recently if you want an idea of what Iraqis are thinking about this whole ordeal.

Someone in my History of Modern Arabia class asked why western powers thought that they could go into that part of the world and impose nation-state governments on historically tribal cultures?

Mind you, for most of the current state of Iraq's existence, its artificial nation has been held together by brutality. And the above question doesn't even touch on the Sunni, Shii and Kurd divisions...

Now that this brutality is gone, there is nothing holding that piece of geography together as a nation. Except for the U.S. military (and the allies- Sorry, Tony almost over looked your guys).

But the last two years, I hear, show that the insurgents must be getting desperate.

UPDATE: January 7, 2005 - 5:50 AM

School has been keeping my busy so I just noticed this old Atrios post...

The Good News From Iraq

Heroic tales of sacrifice are not "good news." Last I checked it was thought to be fucking horrible when heroes died. Maybe I didn't get the memo.

A different perspective from Lance in Iraq: Sweet justice

Additional Homework: January 7, 2005 - 11:30 PM, and beyond...

I am reviewing the Iraqi blogs I posted recently tonight, so here are some links...

'I did not want to be a collaborator' - Monday July 28, 2003

Success, a year and a half ago, looked like...

Iraq is now in almost total chaos. No one knows what is going on. We're not talking here about trying to achieve an ideal political system. People cannot understand why a superpower that can amass all that military might can't get the electricity back on. Iraqis are now contrasting Saddam's ability to bring back power after the war in 1991 to the apparent inability of the US to do so now. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories.

Written by: Isam al-Khafaji is a professor of political economy at the University of Amsterdam and author of the forthcoming Tormented Births: Passages to Modernity in Europe and the Middle East. He was a member of the Democratic Principles Working Group convened by the US state department to discuss the future of Iraqi governance.
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Ishtar talking - English translations by Salam Pax
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British examples of not pissing off Iraqis: Basra under the Brits feels like another country. - Wednesday July 2, 2003

In Baghdad that gun would be pointing either at the car right behind the military vehicle or at the sidewalk, scanning the buildings. But the British guy wasn't pointing at anything, he was just looking around with the gun turned in, at an angle that would have shot him in the foot if it had gone off by accident. You appreciate this only after you have been driving behind an American Humvee and praying that your car doesn't backfire or make strange noises, because the US soldier has that gun pointing right at you.

The next thing was getting into Basra and being stopped at the checkpoint. One soldier in a floppy hat waving his hand for you to slow down, and when you lower the window he actually greets you with "al salamu alaikum". That got him some appreciative giggles - imagine that happening in Baghdad. Everybody here in Basra is so much more laid back, even after the incidents in al-Majar al-Kabir. To their credit they didn't decide to punish the whole population and clamp down on them.

--Salam Pax
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It is coming up on midnight and I am tired and I want to go to bed, so I will leave these glimpses of Iraq with these two quotes...

Monday, July 07, 2003:
..about 5 million people were living under a temperature of 47 degrees and without electricity and water for three days :-/

You know, I reviewed my "dream list" back then; there was no "New passports" in it. It just contained three simple wishes: Electricity, Water, and Security.

Saturday, December 18, 2004:
No electricity for three days in a row (well, unless you count that glorious hour we got 3 days ago...). Generators on gasoline are hardly working at all. Generators on diesel fuel aren't faring much better- most will only work for 3 or 4 straight hours then they have to be turned off to rest.

Ok- what is the typical Iraqi Christmas wishlist (I won't list 'peace', 'security' and 'freedom' - Christmas miracles are exclusive to Charles Dickens), let's see:

1. 20 liters of gasoline
2. A cylinder of gas for cooking
3. Kerosene for the heaters
4. Those expensive blast-proof windows
5. Landmine detectors
6. Running water
7. Thuraya satellite phones (the mobile phone services are really, really bad of late)
8. Portable diesel generators (for the whole family to enjoy!)
9. Coleman rechargeable flashlight with extra batteries (you can never go wrong with a fancy flashlight)
10. Scented candles (it shows you care- but you're also practical)

When Santa delivers please make sure he is wearing a bullet-proof vest and helmet. He should also politely ring the doorbell or knock, as a more subtle entry might bring him face to face with an AK-47. With the current fuel shortage, reindeer and a sleigh are highly practical- but Rudolph should be left behind as the flashing red nose might create a bomb scare (we're all a little jumpy lately).

-from Baghdad Burning

It's the progress being made in Iraq that really makes me feel that this is worth it, for us and for them.
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