The Two-Way Iraqi Street


During the early days of the war, I heard reports from TV correspondents in Baghdad that Iraqi-in-the-street reaction was largely horrified by the invasion. The correspondent pointed out that, well, seeing as how they still considered the dictator Saddam to be in control, one couldn't expect them to say otherwise. Certainly, he had a point.

Now Operation: Iraqi Freedom partisans are gladly huzzahing widespread reports of Iraqis-in-the-street expressing loud public support for the armed forces currently running through and ruling their streets. This is heartening for those who want to believe this war will all turn out for the best.

It is also just barely possible that this is another round of a perfectly understandable, but not necessarily deep or long-lasting, show of support for the powers-that-now-be on the part of the Iraqi people. Such cheers may not be the sincere beginning and end of the occupying U.S. army's relations with the Iraqi street. We are apparently setting ourselves up as the cop on the beat for the Iraqi street for a long time to come. They may well continue to festoon the cop with flowers.

We may also find–even if Saddam is/was as widely hated by non-Ba'ath party members as he undoubtedly is/was–that after a while the cop (especially because we will undoubtedly not be ruling with as efficient and fearsome an iron fist as Saddam) may find himself on the receiving end of bricks or bombs. Like everything about the aftermath, only time will settle the matter. But it seems worth thinking about as we hunker down into Operation: Iraqi Governance.

NEXT: Memories of Freedom

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  1. It’s always bad form to “boo” the winners.

  2. Please stop saying “street.”

  3. You make it sound like a phyrric victory, but we have just demonstrated to the rest of the world how puny they are in comparison to us. What’s the harm in that? All I can see is the great good that will come of it. We now stride the globe, leading by example. It is our American birthright.

  4. The king is dead. Long live the king.

  5. The occupation of Baghdad marks the turning point of the war.

  6. yeah, it’s like that signpost in britannia (ultima I 🙂 ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ whatever.

  7. Warren, re: turning point.

    Since Iraq’s defeat was never in doubt, I think the only turning point this war had was when the 48 hour deadline ran out and Saddam & Sons, Inc., was still in Iraq, and we knew there’d BE a war. 😉

  8. If we can manage to be the cop without resorting to raperooms, plastic-shredding-people-eaters, tongue removals, gather-round-the-square executions, and other assorted nastiness; we’ll probably be seen as the good cop. Even if we must fire some guns on occasion to keep the peace.

  9. “The foreigner and Christian is not a popular person in Arabia,” said T.E. Lawrence. “However friendly and informal the treatment of yourself may be, remember always that your foundations are very sandy ones.”

    Nothing is ever straightforward in the middle east.

  10. hey, i was just watchin’ chinatown last nite! “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.” 😀

  11. I think the ultimate response will depend on the post-war situation. If the US governs Iraq like a colony, we will be justly criticized. But if we embark on a road of constitutional governance and effective reconstruction, there is a chance of real success. Think of post-WWII Japan and Germany. For better or for worse, it’s in the hands of the Bush administration. Personally, I hope Colin Powell has his say.

  12. Whatever comes next will be better–no matter how you slice it–than what has gone before.

  13. The problem with Brian Doherty is that he’s an appeaser of the worst sort. We rolled over a 4th rate army and now we’re in Baghdad and all we hear from Doherty and his ilk is nattering about coming antagonism. Well our glorious armed forces and our political leaders – Feith, Perle, Wolfowitz, Podhoretzeseses, Kristol, Kagan, Boot, Krauthammer, and Sullivan – have no time for such negativism. Who gives a shit whether the Arab “street” loves us or hates us.

    Once Perle and Kristol carry their fatasses over to Baghdad, the Street supplicate itself to Commentary, the WSJ, and the Weekly Standard. I predict the number of Baghdadi subscriptions to these journals of deep thought will skyrocket as Iraqis come to know the power of revolutionary democracy. Long Live Trotsky!

  14. Hopefully the return and involvement of iraqi exiles will facilitate the process, and increase the coalition-backed government’s ability to measure the sentiments/opinions of the Iraqi public. While Iraq will undoubtedly be a better place after the War, the Iraqi people may rightfully resent the fact that we 1. made that decision, 2. did not exhaust all other means of diplomacy before resorting to war, and 3. will be using their oil resources to pay for the war and reconstruction (again making a decision for them without their consultation). It is not a question of better or worse, our if we could, but rather if we should.
    The only thing that is certain about the outcome of this is that there will be many who do greet the US with open arms and many who do not, and unfortunately there will be a few who will take violent action/terrorism/suicide attacks in an attempt to realize their political objectives. The best way to minimize this negative response will be to listen to the public, to let them feel what popular sovereignty is all about and to prove to them that we can bring them living democracy.

  15. Must be a sad day for the 5th column stooges
    among us. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE…

    But do not despair. You failed to sabotage
    the war, but now you can turn your attention
    to sabotaging the peace.

  16. I am glad we are at war because sadam makes me sick,torchering our people and his what kind of a leader is that,sick in the head glad he got caught now wishing that he was dead.

  17. EMAIL:
    DATE: 02/28/2004 05:38:15
    The best solution against abortions is education, not snipers.

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