A lot of people have been linking to this letter from a Wall Street Journal reporter in Iraq. It is amazing, as Josh Marshall points out, for the disjunction between it and the actual news we get in the papers.
Iraqis like to call this mess ‘the situation.’ When asked ‘how are thing?’ they reply: ‘the situation is very bad.”
What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn’t control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country’s roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health — which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers — has now stopped disclosing them.
Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.
We, of course, never get accumulating figures of Iraqi casualties, of those innocent bystanders who are killed by suicide bombers and land mines.
Now we have started air strikes, comparisons are being drawn between our policies and Israel’s. Perhaps this just shows that at some point there is no choice but to resort to remote shelling. But it sure doesn’t sound like winning hearts and minds.
I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate in
the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some degree
elect a leadership. His response summed it all: “Go and vote and risk being blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?”