April 10, 2003
More Thoughts on Iraq, as the Credits Roll
Here is Atrios on our triumphant victory over the Saddam statue:
One hopes that the widely broadcast scene of cheering Iraqis tearing down the statue of Saddam Hussein in central Baghdad was both the very real and important symbolic moment it was portrayed to be. However, it’s clear that this was a Pentagon-orchestrated p.r. moment, happily enabled by the media.
You know what's interesting? In the last month we have seen millions of Americans take to the streets against this war, and the media never once offered this as representing the majority view. But right now we are seeing dozens - or at most hundreds - of Iraqis cheering U.S. soldiers, and almost all coverage seems to assume this represents how the entire country feels. Hmm.
Now, I don't doubt for a second that the vast majority of Iraqis are happy to see Hussein's regime go. But I don't believe everyone is thinking "Hooray for America! What a perfect ending!" either. I believe most Iraqi people are able to rejoice in being free from Saddam and still remain aware of the bigger picture, the consequences of the way this came about, and what may come next.
Even the citizens we saw out in the street yesterday, when they actually got a chance to speak, seemed quite wary of America's role there, even as they celebrated the demise of Hussein's crew. As one man said on MSNBC, greeting a Marine coming down the street:
We wait a long time for you. Now you must end very good. Not like 1991.
In other words, we're happy to see Saddam go, but we're not ready to coronate you guys as heroes yet either. We remember how you abandoned us after you got what you wanted in the last war, so we're gonna see how everything settles out before we judge your role in this.
But the feelings of those Iraqi people 6 months from now, or a year from now, will not be plastered all over the evening news. By then we will have long since cued the music, rolled the credits, and went over to film the sequel in Syria.