Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Will Iraqis really "like" America once the Americans have left?

In his often outstanding "Early Warning" blog-column in the Washington Post, William Arkin commented on Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad's recent visit to Baghdad, during which Ahmadinejad asserted that Iraqis don't like America. Arkin takes issue with that statement, and is convinced that Iraqis indeed like America. I hope sincerely that he's correct, but personally I'm nowhere near as sanguine as is Arkin about the willingness of the Iraqi people to go back to "liking America." I have to wonder to what extent the idea of America and the American dream has been supplanted in the minds and psyches of many Iraqis by a much more palpable, crueler image of America - and Americans - as the the torturers of Abu Ghraib, the soldiers who smashed in the doors of their houses and ransacked their most private possessions in night-time searches, the young snipers (like the one who visited my university office recently) who loved their "cool" job, the young infantryman (like one of my students this term) who found most of the Iraqis he encountered to be "whack jobs," the pilots who dropped bombs that wiped out women and children "terrorists" in Fallujah and other Iraqi towns and cities, the Blackwater mercenaries who shot up intersections and ran down innocent Iraqis, sometimes just for the hell of it . . . I can go on.

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