“Letter from Baghdad” in The New Yorker

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Society
December 4th, 2003 • 6:19 am

This very long account by George Packer in The New Yorker of what’s really going on in Iraq is pretty much required reading for anyone interested in what has been happening there in 2003.

Among the numerous erroneous assumptions and miscalculations of the Bush administration, the one that stands out is this idea that “liberated” Iraqis would just jump for joy and immediately embrace the freedom and democracy that the Iraq invasion was supposed to bring about.

It seems that the Bush administration had this picture of the liberation in France in 1944-45 and imagined something similar happening in Iraq after their quick war of “liberation”. But the Iraqis had been living under the Saddam Hussein regime for decades. One of the sad truths of human life is that, over time, human beings become accustomed to oppression and terror. (It is a simple matter of survival.) When this happens, you cannot just expect an entire country to just snap out of it like that. Even without all the material difficulties, the process would still have taken a very long time. And with the many material difficulties and on-going violence, there’s just no telling how long it’s going to take or if it’s actually going to happen.

I just don’t see how the Bush administration is going to be able to get out of this mess before the forthcoming election campaign. Which would be good news if it wasn’t for the suffering Iraqi people themselves. The Bush administration might claim that the war has only caused relatively few civilian deaths, but innocent people continue to die today, as we speak, because of the extremely poor living conditions and chaos. Will these deaths ever be counted by anyone?

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