Thursday, April 10, 2003

A glorious moment and some cold water. What, really, can be added to the scenes of liberation and joy in downtown Baghdad yesterday? Of course we all know that chaos reigns, that the hunt for Saddam Hussein and the senior Iraqi leadership continues, and that the war may sputter on for days or weeks.

There may yet be hell to pay for the way the Bush administration accomplished this. The scenes of civilian suffering are wrenching, and the president's go-it-alone approach means that there's no one to blame but the US and Britain. But, overall, this is a truly wonderful moment for the people of Iraq.

But what would Media Log's purpose be if it were not to throw some cold water on this celebration? This morning, three buckets:

  • Al Jazeera today warns that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the administration are now giving the hairy eyeball to Syria and Iran. This has been widely reported in the US press, too; the significance of the Al Jazeera story is that this is what much of the Arab world is now talking about. What looks like liberation to American eyes takes on the appearance of the beginning of empire from another perspective.
  • The Independent's Robert Fisk is anti-American to the core, but that doesn't mean he's unreliable. In fact, Fisk's account of yesterday's events in Baghdad is rich and nuanced. He describes not just the liberation -- or, should I say, "liberation," since he's always careful to use quotation marks -- but also the suffering that led up to it, as well as the US role in securing Saddam's dictatorship in the first place.
  • Now that US soldiers have suffered and died, fat cats such as former secretary of state George Shultz -- a director of Bechtel -- can move in for the financial kill, observes New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. The problem is that this White House doesn't just not worry about appearances -- it mocks them. Turning this into a business opportunity for American corporations is one sure way to turn victory into defeat.

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