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.