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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2003


A very happy day--for most of us
Today's not happy for two groups of people--the Arab street and the radical left. The Arab street feels disapointed, betrayed and angry--mostly regarding the jubilant Iraqis. From an AP article:
They (Iraqis) haven't yet buried their dead and they are honoring the American flag," said an angry Buthaina Jado'n, 27, a Jordanian Arabic-language teacher. "They haven't seen yet what the Americans will do to them after this; the war has just began."

Wissam Fakhoury, 28, another Jordanian furious at the sight of the U.S. flag briefly on Saddam's statue, said: "I spit on them (Iraqis). I was so disappointed."

From Reuters in Jordan:
Adnan Hamed, 27, a salesman at a store in Amman's rich suburb of Abdoun, flung a box at a television set showing jubilant Iraqis cheering U.S. tanks and throwing shoes at a statue of President Saddam Hussein in the heart of Baghdad.

''I don't want to see these scenes. Where is the resistance Saddam promised us? Karbala and Basra put up stronger resistance. Baghdad has crumbled unbelievably quickly,'' he said, clenching his fists in anger.

Some are feeling confident that the Iraqis will "get theirs." AP:
Mohammed al-Shahhal, a 49-year-old teacher in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, said the scenes reminded him of the collapse of the Soviet Union. "Those who applauded the collapse of Lenin's statue for some Pepsi and hamburgers felt the hunger later on and regretted what they did," said al-Shahhal.

Well, he's half right. From the same article:
"They (Iraqis) haven't yet buried their dead and they are honoring the American flag," said an angry Buthaina Jado'n, 27, a Jordanian Arabic-language teacher. "They haven't seen yet what the Americans will do to them after this; the war has just began."

From the Washington Post:
"Frankly, we believed that Baghdad would remain Iraq's impregnable citadel. We thought that Baghdad's walls would turn into swords to decapitate the invaders. Saddam Hussein had misled us into believing that the invaders would never take Baghdad. But the home of five million people collapsed in record time."

The blame, [Samir Ragad, chairman of the board of the Egyptian Gazette] says, lies with the Iraqi military failure.

"Why did the Iraqis not blow up the bridges over the Tigris and Euphrates to prevent the invaders from reaching their planned targets?" he asks. "It is a disgrace that these huge Iraqi troops relaxed idly and woke up to the roar of gunfire on all sides. It is now clear that the traitors are many and those who gave in to the Satan temptation outnumber them."

They also feel rather betrayed--by the Arab media that Mr. Regad represents. From the AP article:

"We discovered that all what the (Iraqi) information minister was saying was all lies," said Ali Hassan, a government employee in Cairo. "Now no one believes (Arab satellite TV channel) al-Jazeera anymore."

From the Jerusalem Post, via Brothers Judd:
Older Palestinians said the events in Iraq are reminiscent of the Six Day War, when Arab radio stations and leaders told their audiences that Israel wason the verge of defeat. They said the TV appearances of the Iraqi information minister, who remained defiant till the last minute, insisting that everything was under control and that the enemy had been defeated.

"Sahhaf reminded me of [Egyptian radio propagandist] Ahmed Said, who during the 1967 war, told us that the Israeli warplanes were falling likeflies," said Abed al-Zamel, a 70-year-old retired schoolteacher from Silwad village near Ramallah. "Once again the Arabs have fallen victim to the lies of their leaders and media. We never learn from our mistakes. When the war erupted, I warned my sons not to watch Arab TV stations so they would not be disappointed and depressed when the truth eventually comes out."

The latter are two very good signs--when they see that, in fact, the Iraqis do very well with assistance from the US, that we don't steal their oil, and that life is better, freer and happier in Iraq than wherever they are living, many will start to question what they have been told. Many others will just ignore it, and insist that they are being oppressed, but some will behave more rationally.

Second, the fact that no one believes Arab TV anymore is a very, very good thing. If I were writing the script, this would spawn an Al-Jazeera II, a more US-friendly independent network, possibly based out of Kuwait and operating mainly there and in Iraq--but eventually spreading through the rest of the region. Sort of an Arab Fox News, to counter the Arab CNN (though Al-Jazeera has far less legitimacy than CNN ever will). This could come as a result of the fomenting Kuwaiti public relations and legal campaign, defending themselves from the rest of the Arab world for their support of America.

All in all, signs are good for the Arab street, despite their obviously inappropriate reaction to the liberation of those they call brothers. Also from the AP article:

Abdel Khaleq Abdulla, a political analyst in the United Arab Emirates, said many Arabs, plagued by a sense of powerlessness, will feel depressed at first, despite Saddam's crimes.

"For a while, there will be a sense of resignation, letdown, that this is one more (Arab) defeat," he said. "But what was defeated primarily in Baghdad is Arab oppression, the one-party system which was unable to defend its country for more than three weeks, and its capital for more than 48 hours.

I see no such silver lining of dawning rationality in the radical left, which is just trying to ignore this whole "liberation" business, and hoping it all goes away. At the Common Dreams News Center ("Breaking News and Views for the Progressive Community") their only mention of the liberation is the headline "U.S. Flag on Iraqi Monument Causes Concern." Seriously. It's the sort of thing that makes you check the URL to make sure you didn't end up at The Onion... except that the Onion tends to be reflexively anti-war as well. So maybe The Lemon instead. For another, even more disturbing look at how the radical left views the liberation of Iraq (generally with immense amounts of mistrust and paranoia), check out the always alternately entertaining and horrifying comments of the posters at far-lefty site the Democratic Underground." One example:
this entire thing is a PR event. The US grabbed a bunch of Iraqis, gave them money or somesuch, and told them to go tear down the statue. It's all really quite pathetic.

Yeah... I'm seeing no real hope for them at all. Were there people talking like this on V-E day?
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