Friday, February 04, 2005


Richard Brookhiser, in The New York Observer:

There you have the lineup of the two sides, in Iraq and in the United States: liberals and terrorists versus Bush and voters. Note the asymmetry on the first side. Most liberals do not favor terrorism and tyranny. (Some do -- Michael Moore called the terrorists Minutemen.) They fear that the cost of liberation is too high, or that the goal is unreachable -- reasonable concerns, for ends must always be proportioned to means. But Mr. Zarqawi hoped the liberals would win. Their victory here in November would have made his task in Iraq so much easier. On the other side, Mr. Bush and Iraq's voters are closer in sympathy, and dependence.

Follow that? Liberals are allies of the scum who are trying to kill our troops and suppress freedom. Granted, most of them really aren't. But when you get right down to it, they really are. Therefore, Michael Moore Michael Moore Michael Moore.

Brookhiser has, I take it, spent much of the war up in Ulster County, New York, looking for evil liberals to heap scorn on and trying to decide whether to get a satellite dish. His Observer colleague, Tish Durkin, has spent months and months actually dodging bullets in Iraq, as an honest-to-God war correspondent. Brookhiser believes George W. Bush and the voters of Iraq are essentially on the same page. Durkin knows better:

To the American public, the Iraqi people said, "We love you! We thank you! God bless you! Without you, we'd still be under the cruel thumb of the dictator! If there's anything we can do to strengthen your hand in our part of the world, just give us a holler!"

No, no, no, scratch that -- I was just listening to some idiot crowing on talk radio. Given the remarkable ability of positive developments in Iraq -- the toppling and later the capture of Saddam, let’s say -- to be immediately followed by brutally negative periods of violence, you'd think that there would be a media-wide moratorium on crowing, as well as gloating, preening, high-fiving and self-congratulating generally.

But no: It's not enough to see, and to celebrate, what actually is great about this moment. It is necessary to invent all kinds of other stuff.

Don't get me wrong. Had Americans not led the way to the uprooting of Saddam, Sunday's election would never have happened. So, hooray for us. But there is no time like the present for Americans to take those rose-colored glasses and toss them into the deepest ocean they can find. The fact that so many Iraqis voted reflected nothing more or less than a calculation on the part of themselves and their leaders that Iraqis would be better off with an election than without an election.

Happy TV pictures from Sunday or no happy TV pictures from Sunday, the only sound assumption upon which to go forward is the assumption that the reservoir of Iraqi good will toward Americans has long since run dry -- and predictably so, because it was pretty darn shallow to begin with.

This was true before the election, it was true during the election, and it will be true long after the election: For every Iraqi who believes that the United States primarily came to save them from Saddam, there are thousands who believe that the Americans came primarily to steal their oil. For every Iraqi who associates Bush 43 with suffrage, there are millions who associate Bush 41 with Saddam's mass slaughter of Shiites after the Gulf War in 1991. The belief that the Americans are tools of a Jewish conspiracy, and that this whole war was nothing but a great big excuse to expand Israel through the whole of Mesopotamia, is as widely and strongly held as it is patently nuts.

Click through to Durkin's article for a truly nutso conversation Durkin had with a Sadr-ite in Baghdad last summer.

Durkin praises the Iraqi people to the skies for their courage on Sunday. But life is complicated -- and the Right's stick-figure Iraq morality play isn't.

(Note: If you're reading this after February 8 or 9, 2005, the Observer links won't work. Try this for the Durkin and this for the Brookheiser.)

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