I recently read a heartening report in the International Herald Tribune, what a grand paper (They know a gent's walked into the café, with the IHT. Good afternoon, I chant, tea and salmon canapés please…) It concerned a new, apparently popular Baghdad radio station Iraqis can call to air their views on issues like crime, incipient civil war, girl/boyfriend troubles or the price of vegetables.
I rejoice that after decades of fascist oppression, our neighbours can call the radio to freely complain, rather than praise Saddam Hussein and his sons, or execrate Israel (which they can also). Every day, that radio station is helping forge the fragile organism called civil society.
According to the report, a poll taken by the radio station showed that the vast majority of Iraqis – if not every single member of the sample population that responded to that survey — consider Iraqi insurgents “terrorists” not “resistance fighters.”
We rarely hear the views of the sedate majority, but when we do, they generally confirm my opinion that people are more discerning and sensible than the press and politicians suppose. It is barely credible that the Iraqis should admire Muqtada al-Sadr, or the terrorists and professional murderers intent on imposing a regime infinitely worse than the government of Iyad Allawi and its likely successors. They do not.
It is the ignorant or cynical left-wing trash of Western countries that see a legitimate “resistance.” The older generation of the same trash used to sympathise with the Soviet Union, Sandinistas, Palestinian hijackers etc.., Oh, and that Musaddiq.
The IHT report says it all: Most Iraqis approve, grudgingly or otherwise, the overall developments in their country. They may wish the Americans to leave (as if the Americans want to stay) but prefer the new arrangements to the past or anything Muqtada al-Sadr can offer. What can he offer other than a perpetual economic slump and a life of misery I hardly need describe to anyone on this website?
An Associated Press report of 10 September cites a resident of Samarra, in central Iraq, welcoming the return of provisional government authority and American troops to the town, after a period of control by “rebels” when, AP reported, the city saw a “reign of terror,” lawlessness, and the execution of “informers.” I don't suppose we shall see Western students, socialist politicians, film makers and stinking installation artists marching against terrorists, murderers and “rebels.”
This I blame in part on accursed romanticism, the 19th century cultural wave that repackaged violence, anarchy, and road-rage as breathtaking heroism. The Left used it in the last century to portray itself as a friend of the people and repository of disinterested communitarian sentiments (on which I would merrily piss). Thus we have T-shirts of El Che, but none of Richard Nixon. Who can say, speaking qualitatively or quantitatively, that the former served humanity better than the latter?
Richard Nixon was vilified for his politics, then for breaking the law. Salvador Allende, the Chilean president Nixon helped topple, also broke the rules of democracy. He violated the Chilean constitution, certainly in spirit, if not in actuality. He snapped, roughed up and manhandled all the legislation and rights, including property rights, which he thought would obstruct the (usually forced) march to socialism.
So is it the violation of laws we deplore, or just anyone not from the romantic Left? But Allende was democratically elected, they keep saying (not Musaddiq, as someone pertinently observed on this site); so was Nixon. Only Nixon did not intend to discreetly put to death a liberal democracy, and perpetuate himself as a populist dictator (nor does George W. Bush).
Allende did, arguably. He sought to replace what he might have termed a “bourgeois democracy” with the socialism some consider the “real” version of democracy (to which I say, democracy is one thing, sir, socialism another, and the first is infinitely more pleasant than the second — which reminds me of a British television documentary, where a Cuban “citizen” was telling the filmmaker, “all we can do here is drink and f**k.”)
Allende I admit is a poor example of left-wing wickedness. He was a good man, and he meant well; the circumstances of his death were regrettable (as circumstances often are).
Another IHT item I read a few months back reported that while Iraqis dislike the U.S. occupation, they were furious at French efforts to compromise and retain the regime of Saddam Hussein. And the French thought people would love them for standing up for the little man…
Man, I love that paper. I shall try not to walk around saying told you so, told you so, a perpetual temptation. I also suspect George W. Bush will win – ceteris paribus – absent a gigantic act of terrorism. You look at Kerry and see another spineless, dreary James Carter, and frankly I cringe at the great bargains his putative vice-president is offering. But I do like the Kerry wife who told a journalist to “shove it.” You tell them, Mrs. “friend of the people.”