Wednesday, April 09, 2003
HITCHENS IS BACK
posted by Eric |
I was wondering where Christopher Hitchens has been. The last thing I read was Sridhar Pappu saying that maybe he would in Iraq covering the war for Vanity Fair, but I never got a satisfactory answer as to whether or not he actually was. He’s already done his rousing post-Iraqi-celebration gloat thing. Here it is. One of the best parts:
Oh yes, the Arab street did finally detonate, just as the peace movement said it would. You can see the Baghdad and Basra and Karbala streets filling up like anything, just by snapping on your television. And the confrontation with Saddam Hussein did lead to a surge in terrorism, with suicide bombers and a black-shirted youth movement answering his call. As could also have been predicted, those determined to die are now dead. We were told that Baghdad would become another Stalingrad—which it has. Just as in Stalingrad in 1953, all the statues and portraits of the heroic leader have been torn down.
FRED KAPLAN PIECE
This is interesting, as he’s the only person I’ve seen who wrote a fairly substantial piece in real time as everything unfolded. He’s already in quibbling and nay-saying mode, but I felt a need in some way to follow up on the regrettable (and short-lived) American flag incident that was mentioned in Kim’s e-mail excerpt below, which he noticed too.
posted by Eric |
I was casting about for something to do with all of the wonderful photographs of the event, and then found a lot of them were put together in this superlative photo essay . Its really worth checking out.
CELEBRATION ROUNDUP (WHICH LINKS TO ANOTHER CELEBRATION ROUND-UP)
posted by Eric |
Daniel Drezner did a good job collecting the best of the straight news paper and wire service pieces. Tim Blair has a great post:
I SHOULDN'T be so happy. After all, I'm a right-wing deathbeast, and the end (or near end) of a war should upset me, because we conservatives lust for war all the time. Except when we have to fight it ourselves, of course. Being chickenhawks and all.
And the toppling of a fascist dictator should have me all weepy and nostalgic for Hitler. Because I'm a fascist, according to much of the mail I receive.
Those Iraqis dancing in the streets? That should really piss me off, because I want to oppress them and steal their oil. Why are they even able to dance? I was promised 500,000 murders, yet thus far only 1,000 or so innocents have died.
So why am I so damn happy? I really can't explain.
I'd go and ask some oppression-hating anti-fascist peace activists about it, but for some reason they're all incredibly depressed.
Glenn Reynolds’ best comment was earlier on Instapundit :
A.N.S.W.E.R. is planning a stop-the-war rally for Washington on Saturday.
They may get their wish, an end to the war. I wonder if they'll be pleased?
BEST OF THE VICTORY OP-EDS
posted by Eric |
My friend Ray sent me this great link to a piece on National Review On-Line. Excerpt (same as Ray’s):
So there you have it: Saddam's mighty military machine has collapsed, civilian casualties have been held to a minimum, our troops are not being showered with chemical weapons, the oil wells aren't ablaze, the Turks aren't fighting with the Kurds, the Israelis aren't being hit by Scuds, a hundred bin Ladens haven't managed to detonate 1,000 suicide bombers in America's shopping malls, Arab leaders friendly to the U.S. aren't being hanged from street lamps — but how come we still haven't dealt with the burglaries in downtown Basra? It's an outrage! Quick someone, call Sean Penn and Michael Moore!
FOR THE SAKE OF COMPLETENESS
posted by Eric |
Here is the text, edited for syntax and typos, of the first e-mails I wrote and received after the victory celebrations. I wrote this:
Subject: Is anyone near a TV?
There's one in a break room here and its only getting MSNBC, but they're running some amazing footage in an endless loop. We're in the center of Baghdad now and the people are literally rejoicing in the streets like in '45 Paris or '89 Berlin. We gave them a crane and they pulled down an enormous Saddam Hussein statue (I didn’t realize from the angle I was watching that we were doing it with a tank, but they certainly were cheering- ed.)"Mohammed the Entertainer" (Iraqi superflack Mohammed Said-Sahaf) is nowhere to be found, all the government"minders" have disappeared so journalists are moving about freely and are capturing these sorts of scenes. There are a handful of our GI's just standing around trying to make sure things don't get out of hand but no one's giving them a problem. They're too busy jumping up and down and celebrating.
There are still some problems of course. A lot of looting (no surprise), northern campaign still in tough fighting, but we have Basra and Baghdad and all of the South. Apparently, even some Iraqi propaganda officials are saying that Saddam and Usay were seriously injured in our strike last night.
In essence, while we're all at work we've pretty much officially won. God bless the Anglosphere (minus Canada)!! I think we're on a historical tipping point of Hegelian proportions. The end of the beginning of World War III and the good guys won.
Does any know what Fox News Channel is showing?
And to think this is their reaction despite the 24 hour a day thought control of living in a Stalinist police state! All the propaganda they've been force fed and they're still celebrating!
And Kim wrote me this:
We have the TV on at work and have been watching the whole thing on Fox News- I actually have been watching since this morning when I saw troops overtake the square. The first thing they did was to try to take that whole thing down with their bare hands - I then saw a spunky little Iraqi guy run over to a Marine to see if he could just shoot the statue down with the tank at which the Marines just smiled and shook their heads no.
The best footage so far has 1) A marine placing a US flag over the face of that Saddam statue and 2) the toppled statues head being dragged through the streets by a group of men who took turns riding it, had various people throw shoes at it and if I'm not mistaken someone was going to urinate on it before the camera cut away . . .
Another thing Fox News is showing is the current streets of Baghdad which are very busy - it seems like people now feel its safe enough to go outside and do things. Everyone is commenting on how the streets were deserted yesterday and today its busy.
SULLIVAN’S VICTORY POST
posted by Eric |
Andres Sullivan has weighed in. His post is a thing of beauty Excerpt:
This is an amazing victory, a victory over a monster who gassed civilians, jailed children, sent millions into fruitless wars, harbored poisonous weapons to threaten free peoples, tortured thousands, and made alliances with every two-bit opportunist on the planet. It's a victory over those who marched in the millions to stop this liberation, over the endless media cynics, over the hate-America crowd, and the armchair generals. It's a victory for the two countries in the world that have always made freedom possible and who have now brought it to another corner of the world made dark by terror. It's a victory for the extraordinary servicemen and women who performed this task with such skill, cool, courage and restraint. It's a victory for optimism over pessimism, the righting of past wrongs, the assertion of universal truths against postmodern excuses, and of political leadership over appeasement. Celebrate it. Don't let the whiners take this away from you or from the people of Iraq.
EWOK PARTY SCENE
posted by Eric |
I want to put something up regardless of whether I have this blog set up to my satisfaction merely so I have a record of my thoughts during a major historical event, perhaps of interest only to myself.
Unfortunately because I’m at my stultifying job I’ve been unable to watch the Iraqi celebrations and track them through the blogosphere to the extent that I wish to, but I have seen the incredible images of joy and jubilation in central Baghdad by this point along with most of the free world (and even much of the unfree world through Arabic language television, BBC World Service etc.). This is one of those ultra-rare historical moments of unfettered beauty and joy that are so wonderful they almost seem corny and unreal. In my own head, with my mind rearing up in disappointing fits of Gen-X geekiness, I’ve always likened these scenes to the end of The Return of the Jedi, after the Emperor’s finally been knocked off and the second Death Star destroyed (forgive me if there’s some detail I got wrong), then there is this huge party in the Ewok village with the X-wing fighters used to set off fireworks for the delight of the little kiddie Ewoks.
Though some might decry the fact that my mind so naturally alights upon this image as being shallow or as an example of the overly pop-cultural addled mind of my generation, I think its all perfectly innocuous and understandable. I was the exact perfect age to see the film when it came out, and understood it in the terms it was meant: as the ultimate struggle between good and evil with the good guys winning after a lot of cool fighting and then having a fun party at the end.
I wasn’t old enough yet to understand that the Ewoks were annoying. Nor was I old enough to understand that the original Star Wars trilogy could easily function as a propaganda film for Jihadists, or certainly for Anti-American terrorists: A single superpower has total technological and military dominance over everything. A young man on a desert planet falls under the sway of what he believes to be the “true” form of an Ancient religion and joins a small band of guerrilla fighters in what seems to be a hopeless war against the incredible military might of the superpower. Their first major attack is an unconventional strike by a tiny force on the Death Star facility, a major symbol of the superpower’s might, causing it to be destroyed, and causing what would have to be millions of people inside, people who couldn’t possibly all be soldiers, to be killed. (Am I the only person who’s remarked on the fact that Timothy McVeigh justified the deaths of all the innocent people he killed by saying they were like Stormtroopers in Star Wars, expendable because they were the unwitting patsy’s of an evil government?).
No, I wasn’t old enough yet to understand that pop-cultural kitsch could contain some seriously muddled political messages. It turns out, ironically, that its the bad, complicated real world that occasionally, gloriously contains moments that are every bit as transcendently wonderful as my younger self’s interpretation of that Ewok Party Scene. One, undoubtedly, was the liberation of Paris in 1945. Another I also had the pleasure of watching on television: the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now we have another: Central Baghdad, 2003, the cheering of the throngs, the kissing of the G.I.’s, and the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue. Whoever you are or however you felt about this war going in, this is undeniable. This is truth. This is joy.