are the only site on the web devoted exclusively to intellectual conservatism.
We find the most intriguing information and bring it together on one page
Links we recommend
Link to us
Free email update
What's New & Interesting
April the Ninth
In Dissent, Number
One Hundred and Two
by Brian S. Wise
11 April 2003
Dissenters have maintained
a most unique view of the big picture, the sort that comes with an even more
unique tunnel vision: whatever happens, it will most likely be bad; more,
whatever has happened has definitely been bad.
now you have probably read a dozen (or two) emotional recollections – and
have watched more than a few hours of television coverage – on the grand
spectacle that was the Hussein statue coming down in Baghdad two days ago.
And make no mistake as to the underlying significance of the event; it was
one of those collective demands for freedom that warms the heart. Freedom,
it has been said, begins with the word no; those born with the highest liberty
humanity has ever allowed should take great pleasure when a people discovers
(or rediscovers) a liberty of its own, for so long denied by a force they
could not overpower.
Yet, footage of the looting has by now taken the place of the statue footage.
There has come to exist a certain sideways glance when the footage is shown;
it is as though some are passively suggesting that, in the first days of
freedom, this is the best the Iraqis could manage. Well, all right.
Let it be said that people should resist whatever temptations they may have
to loot (or riot, or whatever). But let it also be said that not everyone
is looting (you would not have suggested all of Los Angeles looted for Rodney
King), and that the initial targets (note: the initial targets) were regime
owned apartments and office buildings (not illogical given the impact of
the regime on the people), and not because the Lakers beat the Nets for the
Stud Rumsfeld the First referred to the continuing looting and unrest as
… “untidiness.” (“If you go from a repressive regime … in that transition
period, there is untidiness.”) The Stud is right as to the nature of
the point, but looting, arson and shootings are more than merely untidy.
“We do feel an obligation to assist in providing security, and coalition
forces are doing that. Where [the troops] see looting, they are stopping
it.” Concluded the Secretary of Defense, “Stuff happens.” Indeed.
In Mosul, that stuff included: 1) a marauding of the central bank, 2) three
of Saddam General Hospital’s five ambulances were stolen, 3) all eight of
Jumhuriya Hospital’s ambulances were taken at gunpoint, and 4) the Mosul
University library was ransacked, disturbing what Al-Jazerra called “rare
So anyway. What is the best way to deal with the civil disobedience
of a newly liberated people? We have all seen the footage of this one
female soldier trying to hold back several Iraqis from advancing on one target
or the other, and that is probably the best way to end such uprisings.
One trusts (at least I do) that a steady, contained field of non-violent
allied resistance will eventually convince our new looting / rioting / pyromaniac
friends that enough is enough, with arrests from some sort of centralized
police department taking care of the rest. (Imprisonment for the newly
freed? If you must. At least torture is no longer in the cards.)
Not surprisingly, Arab reaction to the fall of Baghdad on April the ninth
was an odd combination of outrage and bewilderment. The following cross
section of Arab feedback was taken directly from the Thursday (April the
tenth) edition of Special Report: An Al-Jazerra producer told Larry King
(ugh) that she and her colleagues were very surprised to see Iraqis “receiving
the Americans and British with smiles and flowers.” Reuters quoted
a Yemeni teacher who said, “I still cannot believe that the Americans entered
Baghdad so easily.” A history teacher in Egypt said he hears people
asking why Hussein’s forces “crumbled like a biscuit.” A shopkeeper
in the West Bank asked, “Where is the Iraqi army? Have they evaporated?”
A housewife in Syria broke down in tears and said the taking of Baghdad was
“humiliating.” A government employee in Cairo concluded, “Now no one
believes Al-Jazerra anymore.” You would expect that from a people whose
culture literally has no definitions for words like “democracy,” “freedom”
and “constitution,” let alone the ideas behind them.
But what is keeping such large sections if the American media from speaking
at length on the joys experienced by the Iraqi people? Objectivity?
Not exactly. Peter Jennings managed to wonder aloud about a sculptor,
whose job was to sculpt statues not unlike the one in Baghdad for all regime
hire-ups, and who is now out of work. Ted Koppel, was heard to have
said the bringing down of the statue was just one of those “benign photogenic
events that can dilute us into misunderstanding what lies ahead.” What
lies ahead? He future may be daunting, but what about taking a moment
to appreciate what has already been accomplished? Never mind.
Dissenters have maintained a most unique view of the big picture, the sort
that comes with an even more unique tunnel vision: whatever happens, it will
most likely be bad; more, whatever has happened has definitely been bad.
Iraqis being allowed to take their first baby steps to independence is a
towering success, a benefit to humanity, a first step in their enjoying the
sort of sovereignty far too many of us have come to take for granted.
Brian S. Wise
Brian's Mailing List
this Article to a Friend