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What real Iraqis are saying

By Alan Caruba
web posted July 12, 2004

In mid-June there was a report of a poll of Iraqis commissioned by the Coalition Provisional Government in which more than half of Iraqis reportedly believed they would be safer if US troops left. I found myself wondering about the validity of the poll when I visited an Internet site where Iraqis can blog about what is happening in their lives and in their nation. If the site is any kind of an indicator, the poll is wrong.

If common sense is any kind of indicator, the poll is wrong. In the run-up to the transfer of power to a sovereign Iraqi provisional government, the enemies of freedom escalated their indiscriminate bombings and Iraqis were advised to stay off the streets. If the US forces had withdrawn prior to the transfer or right after, the streets of Iraqi cities would run red with the blood of its citizens. They know that.

Everything we read and hear about events in Iraq comes to us filtered by a news media that is more interested in body counts, assassinations, and bombings of various facilities there. Other sources of information are available, but most of us don't have the time to check them out and then there's the problem of sorting out the "spin" of various government spokespersons, whether ours or theirs.

That's why www.Iraqataglance.blogspot.com, is especially valuable to anyone trying to understand what is actually going on in a nation struggling against many forces, internal and external, to emerge from three decades of Saddam's oppression into a genuinely sovereign and self-governing democracy.

Since what we mostly see on television are the bombed-out skeletons of automobiles or oil pipelines set ablaze or armed militias parading, the tendency is to forget that Iraq is home to millions of well-educated people pursuing various professions and eager to embrace freedom. Theirs is a future that is utterly dependent on the will of Americans to see the liberation of Iraq through to a conclusion that benefits Iraqis, the Middle East, our strategic objectives and, finally, a world threatened by an Islamic holy war.

The Internet site provides Iraqis the opportunity to express themselves and, of particular value to Americans, it is in English, a second language for many educated Iraqis. It is maintained by "AYS", a dentist who lives in Baghdad and those who blog on it likewise identify themselves only by their initials.

In mid-June, AYS reflected on those who had been blaming Americans for their current problems, writing, "Some people gave up accusing the Americans and turned to someone they forgot to make (them) share their favorite games: conspiracies. 'Israel is behind all the ongoing assassinations in Iraq!' These words are heard directly among people and indirectly on the Arab channels 'Israel does not want Iraq to progress and live in peace' and many more silly opinions."

In a nation undergoing a painful transition, rumors of conspiracies abound and, indeed, America is rife with conspiracy theories as well concerning our own affairs and others. What makes this interesting is that, throughout the Middle East, Israel is always given as the reason for anything that goes wrong.

AYS went on to note, "The good thing in Iraq is that most Iraqis do not care for the 'Arab nation' and other 'nationalistic' concepts. They realized that they had nothing but pains from them and Iraqis were suffering under Saddam while the Arabs were clapping for him, and now they are exporting their terrorists to help us in building our country! So, Iraqis started to think as Iraqis, not as Arabs, and together with democratic changes, Iraq will witness a great future."

Thus for AYS and many other Iraqis, the realization that neither Israel is to blame for their current problems, nor the notion of Arabs united for their mutual benefit, is beginning to give way to a sense of being citizens of a sovereign nation whose neighbors are actually the real threat to their new, great hope for democracy and its benefits.

Commenting on Muqtada Al Sadr, AYS said in mid-June, "It seems like Iraqis are about to kill Muqtada for his arrogance and the increasing bad reputation he's making trouble for everyone. There are many people talking about what Muhammed Sadiq Al-Sadr (Muqtada's father) was saying about him. He had never respected his son." AYS then relates that Iraqis regard Muqtada as a thief and lowlife. "We need the American troops. We need the coalition even after June 30. It's dangerous to leave Muqtada free. I think he's more dangerous than the other terrorists. The new government must not get cold feet and refuse to arrest him."

In early June, AYS said, "It's so elegant to look at the new Iraqi government with all its respectable men. It's so important for any country to have such a government with all those qualifications to run that state in a correct way." This is why, in the run-up to the June 30 turnover of sovereignty, the enemies of democracy were trying to kill the new government's leaders.

There are many other bloggers on this website and they speak of the level of crime that still exists in Iraqi cities, the need for more electricity, and other every day problems that are, by all accounts, being addressed. A nation whose previous police authorities were often little more than thugs will need time to fashion a new police that respects the rule of law and a judicial system that administers it fairly. It will need border guards and a military that can and will function effectively. None of this will happen overnight, but, with patience and perseverance, it can and will happen.

It also needs the patience and perseverance of the American people. Our military will need to be there a long time to assist the building of a new nation from scratch. The good news is that, among Iraq's intelligentsia and its middle class, there is plenty of talent and the will to achieve a nation that can and will function in the modern world.

The modern world, i.e., Western ideas and values, are what the enemies of progress and nationhood in Iraq fear most. It is the reason that the Third Great Jihad is being waged against the United States and the West.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on www.anxietycenter.com, the website of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba 2004

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