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Jewish World Review May 9, 2003 / 7 Iyar, 5763

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
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Political parties fighting over Iraq's wreckage


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Let's mop up this Iraq thing, shall we?

We're all up to speed on how smoothly the military part went.

By the way, as Time explains, Saddam's vaunted Republican Guard wasn't slaughtered by our magic electronic weaponry. Its members merely ditched their uniforms and melted back into Iraqi society.

Meanwhile, don't believe all that negative reporting you've been hearing from Baghdad, writes Jonathan Foreman in the neo-conservative Weekly Standard, where Victory in Iraq parties are still raging.

An embedded journalist working for the New York Post, Foreman says in "Bad Reporting from Baghdad" that things are much better in Occupied Iraq than they've been portrayed by the news media, especially the Associated Press.

Based on his two weeks in Baghdad, he saw no "fury" of Iraqis at U.S. troops for not maintaining law and order. And the nature and scope of the looting was "massively exaggerated" (it was nonviolent and targeted government buildings), as was the size of the "America-go-home" protests by Muslims.

Over at the Nation, the lefties are trying hard to pretend they're not disappointed that America won in Iraq. David Corn admits in "Now They Tell Us: Post-war Truths and Consequences" what any honest anti-interventionist must -- that ridding Iraq/Earth of Saddam was a good thing. Corn's main goal, however, is to remind us that the Bush administration was not quite "on the level" when it was scaring us with tales of Saddam's massive inventory of evil weaponry -- which we are no longer in a hurry to find -- and it was "woefully unready to deal with the consequences of military victory."

Although Corn is probably on to something when he says "this was liberation by deceit and misrepresentation, and the scent of fraud hangs in the air," it's still a decade or two too early to decide which side gets the last "We-told-you-so."

Meanwhile, since we'll be in charge of Iraq for the rest of your lifetime, you might want to buy the latest Smithsonian or Wilson Quarterly and brush up on Iraq's short but discouraging modern history.

Wilson Quarterly's three-part package covers Iraq's history from its beginnings, when the metro Baghdad area was earning its title as the Cradle of Civilization. It's good, scholarly stuff, but not as readable as the Smithsonian's article, "Iraq's Unruly Century."

Using great photos, it traces the troubles Britain had ruling in Iraq after it created it from the carcass of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.

For those who appreciate the great predictive powers of history, the parallels between the experiences the British had in Iraq from 1921 to 1958 and what seems to await us there today are ominous and spooky.

The Brits, Jonathan Kandell explains with no apparent ax to grind, were greeted as great liberators at first. But soon, a Muslim cleric issued a fatwa for a jihad against their occupiers, and there were various military coups and revolts to put down.

Iraq -- designed by Churchill as a constitutional monarchy -- was to be a role model for the Middle East. The Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites couldn't get along. The Sunni minority held most of the power.

And, oh yeah, there's something about Iraq's oil being an issue.

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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Bill Steigerwald