November 22, 2004
For political, emotional and economic reasons, the reporting of the war in Iraq has created two, quite different, versions of whats going on there. Inside Iraq, the war is seen as continued resistance by the Sunni Arab thugs who kept Saddam, and earlier Sunni dictators, in power for generation. Democracy will ruin this racket, and the Sunni Arabs with blood on their hands dont want to face a government, and army, run by the majority Shia Arabs and Kurds. Playing minor roles in this mess are Sunni Arab (al Qaeda) and Shia Arab (supported by Iran) groups that want a religious dictatorship. Corruption and lack of civil spirit got the Iraqis into this mess in the first place, and are making it difficult for a democratic government to get their act together. But the majority of Iraqis appreciate having coalition troops coming in to remove Saddam from power, and sticking around to battle the Sunni Arab effort to regain power.
There is a very different version of the Iraq war available. Much of the foreign, especially European and Moslem, media report a very different reality. This baffles and angers many Iraqis. The problem is that few foreign nations really wanted Saddam Hussein removed. Sets a bad precedent for the many Middle Eastern nations that are also run by dictators. Moreover, many nations were doing business with Saddam, and now stand to lose money because Saddam is gone. Over 90 percent of all Moslems are Sunni and so was Saddam. A Sunni Arab dictator in Iraq was seen by other Sunni Arab nations as a bulwark against Shia Iran. For thousands of years, the Iranians have been dominating the region. Since oil was discovered a century ago, the Arabs now have something really valuable to keep the Iranians away from. While Saddam was good at killing Iraqis, he was also very good at killing Iranians. A guy like that is missed among Sunni Arabs. So the foreign media tend to portray the removal of Saddam as illegal, and the continued fighting in Iraq as an insurgency against foreign occupation. There is also a lot of anti-Americanism involved, especially in Europe. The fact that most of Iraq is at peace, and that nearly all the fighting is by Sunni Arabs, is ignored or played down. The story line is one of quagmire and ultimate defeat of the occupying (largely American) army. Reporting is distorted to fit this fantasy. The media gets away with it because gloom and doom stories are always an easier sell. Peace and reconstruction in the areas where the Shia Arab and Kurds (80 percent of the population) live is not news. Never has been and never will be, except on a very slow news day.
So if the news from Iraq appears, at times, to be a little off, thats only because most of the time its so far off that it might as well be coming from a movie set, not a real place.