Salem Pax’s home gets busted

A shocking story over at Salem Pax about a recent raid of his house by American troops. It’s not that they did anything brutal or cruel. But it certainly isn’t the way to win friends and influence people. It told me me how much the Iraqis must despise us.

SP is educated, erudite and urbane, probably more so than your average Iraqi. So imagine how they must feel during events like this, which are apparently quite commonplace now. Are we welcomed and beloved by most Iraqis or feared and despised? My common sense tells me it has to be the latter, in which case I wonder, how can we ever succeed there? The whole thing was based on the premise that we’d be greeted with open arms and welcomed as liberators, if not saviors. And to a certain extent, we were. But as so many of the “weasels” and “anti-Americans” feared, there was no realistic plan to deal with the aftermath. We over-reached, the most common blunder of heady conquerors.

Via M.K.]

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 13 Comments

“Salam Pax” wrote:

They came, freaked out my mother, pissed off my father, found nothing and left.

Notice, Richard, that no one was dragged away and fed into a plastic shredder.

They’re just freaking out because they haven’t yet gotten it through their scared little minds that we are NOT like the Ba’athists…notice also that Salam’s little whine fest about his friend ‘g’ getting roughed up also didn’t end in him ‘disappearing’, but in him whining to Salam, who whined about it online.

NONE of which would have happened under the Ba’athists: they would have disappeared but good. And not finding anything wouldn’t have stopped the Ba’athists from at the least beating his mom.

They just need some time to let it sink in that the American troops are basically decent, and NOT like the nasty secret police they used to have. And you can’t occupy a country you just defeated without breaking down a few doors looking for nasties.

August 31, 2003 @ 9:49 am | Comment

Notice, David, that people are indeed disappearing in the new Iraq. From one of Salam’s earlier posts [emphasis added]:

someone somewhere wrote that if it were the old regime he and his family and friends would have to worry about their safety. I do need to say that the people who are arrested by the Americans on check points disappear just as they used to do before; this was one of Ghaith’s fears. The Red Cross has access but it is slow. And it takes the Americans ages to “process” you. I am not whining these are facts. Check the Human Rights Watch reports. And Ghaith’s issue should be seen as a broader issue, journalism and this war. This is not the first time a journalist has been harassed by the military. A British friend and an Iraqi who were out reporting got detained for five hours for filming a tank, the film confiscated and of course the Iraqi reporter gets the rougher treatment, the british has the passport to protect her.
And NO it was not a super secret facility.

August 31, 2003 @ 7:06 pm | Comment

I’ve read that post, and they don’t ‘disappear just as they used to’. That’s sheer poppycock…getting arrested by the US Military does NOT result in disappearing in the manner that one would under the Ba’athist regime.

‘Salam Pax’ may not know where they went right now, but they didn’t go down the rabbit hole. And his beloved Ghaith being released shortly after being detained is itself a dis-proof of his assertion.

August 31, 2003 @ 11:43 pm | Comment

David, I would never, ever compare the Americans to the Ba’ath torturers. The point, to me, is that it appears the American presence has shifted from one that inspires love and trust and confidence to one that causes anxiety, resentment and fear.

That may be too much of a generalization and a very different picture might emerge. I’m still trying to gauge it, and it’s not easy.

September 1, 2003 @ 1:01 am | Comment

I see, David, that you have used the dreaded “O” word to describe the U.S. presence in Iraq — something that would have earned you instant and unremitting obloquy from the warhawks just a few short months ago.

However, many of us knew, despite the soothing blandishments of the PNAC crowd, that of course the “coalition action” (or whatever the Patriotically Correct™ term for it was) would turn into an occupation; that the occupation would be neither cheap nor easy; and that the removal of Saddam would uncover a bubbling cauldron of ethnic and religious feuds. For this, we were called unpatriotic, Saddam-loving traitors. And still are, apparently.

The longer the occupation continues, the farther we get from the quick ‘n’ painless dictator-toppling exercise we were promised by Bush’s marketing team.

September 1, 2003 @ 11:09 am | Comment

Albert Speer was also “educated, urbane, and erudite.” So what?

Despite his careful equivocations, “Salaam Pax” has always looked more like a Baathist fellow-traveler than an Iraqi patriot. Now he does his whiny best against American efforts to purge the murderous remnants.

September 1, 2003 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

I admit, I stopped reading his blog a couple of months ago, but I hadn’t really thought of him as “a Baathist fellow-traveler.” It could well be — in which case Andrew Sullivan had better hurry home from his vacation and revoke his past praise of a site he used to point to as a voice of sanity in a bedevilled land.

September 1, 2003 @ 3:46 pm | Comment

If you can find any evidence whatsoever that S.P. is a secret Ba’athist, please share. And please explain how it contradicts the copious evidence to the contrary. How many times does he have to say “Saddam sucks” anyway?

The conflict in Iraq has more than two sides, you know. And just because he criticizes the U.S. and its (thus far) botched efforts at creating a prosperous, durable, democratic state in Iraq, doesn’t mean he wants Saddam back.

September 1, 2003 @ 6:13 pm | Comment

Oh I wouldn’t call him a Ba’athist…but his family had air conditioning under Sadam…that didn’t happen unless you at the very least had a go along to get along type attitude. And if he’s gonna name drop along the lines of “and that document was daddies invitation to go schmooze with Gen. Abizaid”, he needs to fucking say who he is, so we can all know WHICH tribal leader his daddy is, so we can edit out his bias.

That’s why I don’t mind media bias, as long as I know what an outlet or writers bias is, I can mentally compensate for their spin somewhat, and integrate what there report with other points of view who’s biases are known.

Well, if little SP got to travel overseas under Sadam, and daddy hobnobs with the Americans, JUST WHAT THE FUCK IS HIS BIAS?

But he won’t tell us…so what is he afraid of?

September 1, 2003 @ 10:02 pm | Comment

If SP can be said to have a bias, I suppose it’s a generalized bias against ALL authority, especially when imposed through violence. He’s every bit as cynical when he talks about Saddam and the crazy religious lunatics as when he covers his experiences with U.S. troops and the Iraqi governing council.

Then again, he may have somewhat of an anti-having-his-country-bombed-to-bits bias, too.

September 1, 2003 @ 11:49 pm | Comment

Well if he weren’t writing for the Guardian and hence being held up on a pedestal, I wouldn’t give so much of a damn. Just being ‘that famous iraqi blogger’ is one thing. Once his stuff got published in the offline press postbellum, I wanna know who he is, just like I knew who the dissidents publishing from behind the former Iron Curtain put their names on stuff after the Wall came down.

I just want to know what he’s so afraid of. The longer he stays pseudononymous, the more I’m going to think he’s got something really nasty lurking in his (or his families) closet.

And I know I’m not alone in that view by far.

He either has the balls to openly participate in the rough and tumble of a free society, or not.

September 2, 2003 @ 4:45 am | Comment

Vaara, SP enjoyed travel, computer access, and relative comfort during Saddam’s reign. It’s perfectly reasonable to describe him as a fellow-traveler of the regime. These things were only available to the elite. “Go along to get along” describes the mentality perfectly. Now Daddy schmoozes the Americans.

September 2, 2003 @ 6:51 pm | Comment

I cannot believe these wierdoes who claim to know all about iraq and are so sure SP is/was best buddie of the batthisist regime . like as not the furthest they have ever travelled is to the burger joint or game . i can really see them being delighted if troops smashed their way into theirhome when the game was in full swing on the tv.No need ? Since when was Bush Baby Jnr really honestly elected??? Since when did blacks really have equal rights??? USA is not the answer to the worlds problems . Most of the time it IS the worlds problem !Nice to believe that being literate = being a party member . what do we make od fthe fact USA has an amazngly high illiteracy rate ?I cannot abide havig US troops stationed in UK Why the heck should Iraq want them . Oh and please these liberators did drop 1000′s of bombs every night on Baghdad alone. Call that friendly and peaceloving ?
Go study your kiddy books

March 1, 2004 @ 3:20 am | Comment

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