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Music to My Ears

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A lot of really terrific things happened yesterday in and around Iraq, but in the long run THIS may be the most important of all:

    Arabs responded Thursday to the sudden collapse of Saddam Hussein’s government with anger, shock and even disbelief. One newspaper refused to acknowledge that Baghdad had fallen.

    Across the Middle East, people struggled to reconcile images of celebrating Iraqis with widely held suspicions about the United States’ motives.

    “We discovered that all that the (Iraqi) information minister was saying was all lies,” said Ali Hassan, a government employee in Cairo, Egypt.

    “Now no one believes Al-Jazeera anymore,” he said, referring to the Arabic-language television news channel.

    The entire front page of the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat was devoted to a photograph of the pulling down Saddam’s statue in Baghdad. Above it, the headline: “And Saddam’s regime fell – Shock in Arab capitals, joy in Baghdad, destruction of statues and the looting of official buildings.”

    ….Some, however, said they hoped the fall of Saddam could signal a new move toward democracy in the Middle East.

    “I don’t like the idea of having the Americans here, but we asked for it,” said Tannous Basil, a cardiologist in Sidon, Lebanon. “Why don’t we see the Americans going to Finland, for example? They come here because our area is filled with dictatorships like Saddam’s.” [AP]

If Arabs begin to be disabused of the notion that they can trust the words of their dictatorial regimes, or even sympathetically distorted media like al Jazeera, this will be the great awakening of a people we have hoped for: no need for us to do any more regime changing if the Arabs and Muslims will do it themselves.

There appears to have been some correlation in Arab minds between repressive governments and strength – look at this quote:

    Bahraini physician Hassan Fakhro, 62, said he was saddened by the crumbling of the Iraqi resistance in Baghdad.

    “Whatever I’m seeing is very painful because although Saddam Hussein was a dictator, he represented some kind of Arab national resistance to the foreign invaders – the Americans and the British,” he said.

So if there isn’t strength in accepting repression, torture and corruption, then why accept it? Which makes it all the more critical that we conduct ourselves in a thoughtful, respectful manner with the well-being of the Iraqi people as our primary focus from here on out – and most of all, we cannot abandon them this time.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.sanfordmay.com san

    Al Jazeera is about as biased as CNN. Both are less biased than Fox.

  • http://www.sanfordmay.com san

    Speaking of which, I’m starting to become less concerned about what we do in the Middle East than what we do HERE. If we follow our promises in Iraq, and they really do set up a democratic nation, it may seem like a good idea in the future to emigrate from the U.S., and settle in Iraq: Land of the Free.

  • http://www.murphyhorner.com murphy

    I don’t know how to put this.

    I was also stunned, like the Arabs quoted in the article, by how eager the Baghdad residents were to pull down the statue of Saddam. The jubilation was ecstatic.

    Of course, I also noticed that the same footage of the same statue going down was played over and over like a loop.

    The Americans who support the war effort find that loop extremely gratifying.

    There may be people in Bagdad that are less pleased about the American invasion. I suspect that if there are, those people are not thrusting themselves in front of the cameras. The Americans are the ones with the guns.

    I have a strong suspicion that there is way more to the story.

  • Eric Olsen

    There is always more to a story, but it is not inappropriate to linger over the exultation a bit because it flies in the face of all the hand-wringing over why the Iraqis weren’t dancing in the streets – many of them now are.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    “I don’t like the idea of having the Americans here, but we asked for it,” said Tannous Basil, a cardiologist in Sidon, Lebanon. “Why don’t we see the Americans going to Finland, for example? They come here because our area is filled with dictatorships like Saddam’s.”

    How true. We don’t interfere with Finland’s plentiful oil wells because Finland’s oil wells are free of dictatorship. We consistently go after every dictatorship on the planet, so we can liberate the oil wells. As long as there are oil wells living under a dictatorship, we will strive to liberate them.

  • http://www.kalyr.com/weblog Tim Hall

    I’m sure there must be oil in Zimbabwe; we just need to look harder to find it.