I’m scared to post about Iraq at the moment because I can’t figure out what The Truth is.

Conrad led me to two excellent articles that paint a relatively rosy picture and give a lot of hope that things are truly improving there. Then, I see a book-length article in The NY Times Magazine that is bleak beyond words.

It’s an interesting phenomenon, to have one little country where one side tells us conditions there are chaotic and another says they’re good and getting better. All of these articles were written by intelligent reporters who have obviously done their homework and come up with solid examples to make their points.

So I’ll hazard a guess that things are somewhere in between joyous and hellish. (I know, that’s the chicken’s way out, but it’s the only rational conclusion I can arrive at.)

For many Iraqis, life is truly getting better. For others, like those who served in the military, we made some bad decisions that left them feeling screwed and vengeful (as the Times points out). While this constitutes a major headache, there’s more to Iraq than that.

All in all, being barraged by bad news 24/7 — and here in Singapore the media tend to be anti-US, or at least not pro-US — I have to admit I lean more to the pessimistic side nowadays. But seeing those articles Conrad referenced made me wonder whether there really might be hope and light somewhere at the end of this long tunnel. Let’s hope we see more and more of it.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

I don’t know. I don’t care what’s happening to the schools. I don’t care if the money is being circulated without Saddam’s head. I don’t even care if there are community projects.

Soldiers are dying. There are security breaches so big that orgnizations like the UN and Red Cross feel a need to (at least partly) pull out.

That’s bad news people. There’s just no way out of it. It’s stupifying that people go so far out of the way of confronting clear and present logic.

We are in danger of creating another situation of constant and continual strife and warfare, like in Israel and Palenstine. That’s not a success. Sure, maybe it’s better than with Saddam because at least people are able to do business, but it’s not a success that America is capable of. And we are with few options.

November 4, 2003 @ 11:32 am | Comment

It’s not going to be a situation like Israel/Palestine. It’s going to be a situation like Vietnam.

In a nutshell, my view is this. Chairman Mao delineated the four principles of guerilla warfare: “the enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy encamps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.” In Iraq, having retreated at first during the attack, the guerillas are now in their harassment phase. It will be a protracted campaign.

November 4, 2003 @ 12:55 pm | Comment

We have to keep an open mind though. Did you check the two articles that Conrad cited? If they are accurate and if more such stories spread, the Iraqis really might be swayed. Teachers’ salaries rising, education getting better, the quality of life improving — that will resonate with the Iraqis. Well, probably, I’d like to think.

Although I have absolutely minimal faith in our government, I honestly believe men like Wolfowitz and Perle pursued the current policy because they truly believe in it; I want to think they have an idea of what they are doing and not leading us into a scene of self-annihilation. After all, what would Bush & Co. have to gain from that?

I admit, I have no answers and feel more confused now that I have at any point since last spring, when invasion seemed imminent although the solid proof justifying it was lacking. But we’re there. We can’t leave now. Does it have to be a quagmire ending in misery and disgrace for us? As much as I tend to feel that way, I still want to believe otherwise, that our leaders — some of whom are quite smart — will learn from past mistakes, regroup and save what seems right now to be a desperate situation. Do they want Vietnam II to be their legacy?

November 4, 2003 @ 1:34 pm | Comment

Have you ever checked out the Baghdad Burning blog?

(Sorry, don’t know how to make it a live link). It’s well worth reading her stuff — extremely well written, lively, vivid, and with a strong yet nuanced point of view that brings home the disastrous effects (so far) of the U.S. invasion. Read her analysis on who is behind the daily attacks, for instance, to get a much more complex view than “It’s foreign terrorists and Saddam supporters.”

November 5, 2003 @ 1:11 am | Comment

Pulling out at this point means… what? What happens to the Iraqi people then? My prediction: nature abhors a vacuum. We’ll see another Saddam, or Saddam himself, if we vacate. The UN certainly hasn’t shown any balls.

To be clear: I was against the war. I still don’t know what we think we can accomplish through nation-building, given how entrenched the basic problems are. But all that’s academic. If, at this point, we decide to pull out, we leave things in a potentially worse state than before.

re: “chicken’s way out”

Far from being chicken, you hit the nail on the head, I think. There’s nothing chicken about acknowledging a situation’s complexity or admitting complex feelings regarding an undertaking this momentous.

Some people prefer to have their reality boiled down to a set of fewer than five talking points, but unfortunately, reality doesn’t come to us in bumper sticker-sized units. So regarding Iraq, I feel it’s as simplistic to call the situation a quagmire as it is to paint it rosily. To call it complex is more constructive– and more honest– than either extreme option.


November 5, 2003 @ 1:28 am | Comment

Lyn, that is a fascinating site, and it doesn’t restore my hopes that we know what we are doing in Iraq.

It’s a real phenomenon: one war, two totally different versions of how it’s going. We never saw this in Kosovo or WWII or Granada. Time usually straightens these things out. Right now, I’ve never seen anything so tangled.

November 5, 2003 @ 9:41 am | Comment

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