Monday, February 28, 2005

Good Column in The Scotsman

There's a very good column in The Scotsman. Some excerpts:

THE thought is heretical, but I’m having it all the same. Iraq, notwithstanding future setbacks that will undoubtedly occasionally spin it off course, is slowly turning into a good-news story....

The truth is that hatred for George Bush and all he stands for is so entrenched in the eyes of bien pensant western commentators, that using the word "success" about Iraq would choke them. If word ever slips out, in relation, for example, to the highly influential Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani’s rejection of an Iranian-style theocracy, or that both Sunni and Shia openly state that they must get on together and not destroy the country through civil war, it comes hedged with such portentous and lugubrious caveats that it sounds more like a distasteful disease....

Much to the disappointment of western journalists, it seems that, under the country’s new thick rash of satellite dishes, Iraqis are actually enjoying themselves.

This longing for the failure of Bush’s Iraq policy is understandable but rather childish. It is also behind the times. US policy has certainly not been perfect. There are blackspots and boiling points, particularly in Baghdad. Yet somehow "on-the-spot" journalists fail to remind us that Iraq is more than Baghdad and that, in vast swathes of the country, not only is normal life resuming, but it is resuming with hope for a democratic future that was impossible under Saddam.

And if you do not believe me, listen to Walid Jumblatt, the patriarch of the Druze Muslim community in Lebanon. He has stated publicly that, although he is cynical of the US invasion of Iraq, the election has turned out to be, "the start of a new Arab world". He went on: "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it." If this is heresy, I’m happy to own it. There may be trouble ahead, but Iraqis are now making sure that Iraq is on its way.

And, I hasten to note the mention in the final paragraph of Walid Jumblatt (but, sadly, neither his parents, Ward & June Jumblatt, nor his brother, "Beaver" Jumblatt).


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