Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Vox populi Iraq

The Bush administration is pinning its waning hopes in securing Iraq on the January 30 elections which promise to do little but harden the religious enmities between the once-haves-but-now- have-not Sunnis and the soon-to-be-haves Shiites. But there is real populism going on in that war-torn country,

Resistance fighters had their say Tuesday at a meeting that was described as a "peace conference" held in the town of Baquba north of Baghdad. And most of them were not enamored of the United States, according to Reuters correspondent Lin Noueihed:
When dozens of suspected insurgents showed up for a "peace conference" in troubled Baquba on Tuesday, they told the governor sponsoring it why they would not lay down their weapons ahead of elections.

Midnight raids by U.S. and Iraqi forces that rudely awaken women and children in the conservative Arab country were unacceptable.

Arbitrary arrests and unemployment were driving more men, young and old, to a raging insurgency.

When the suspected guerrillas and their sympathizers were handed an oath of non-violence, few asked "where do I sign?"
Why do they not get it? Why does there continue to be this utter astonishment from the Bush administration that a people whose country has been destroyed, their lives shattered, their cities leveled, their religion defiled, have little reason to love the conquerors who did this to them?

A poll published Wednesday by the BBC seems to indicate that most of the world -- nearly three of five -- believes the world is more dangerous, thanks to Bush. Three of the countries that registered the highest Bush danger quotient are Muslim nations, and one of them is a supposed staunch U.S. ally in the Middle East: Turkey, which topped the Bush-fearing list at 82 percent.
Doug Miller, President of Globescan [the polling firm], said the findings "supports the view of some Americans that unless his administration changes its approach to world affairs in its second term, it will continue to erode America's good name, and hence its ability to effectively influence world affairs".
Though Condoleezza Rice talked a good game about repairing America's image during her confirmation hearing Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the poll should indicate that the secretary of state designate will find it more difficult to win over the rest of the world than the 16 senators who voted to send her confirmation on to the full Senate. According to the poll feelings expressed throughout Europe:
Traditional US allies in western Europe were among those expressing the most negative feelings about the re-election.

In Britain, 64% of those polled said they disagreed with the proposition that the US would have a mainly positive impact on the world. The figures were even higher in France (75%) and Germany (77%).
There is an obvious disconnect between the people of Britain and its government, which is reeling from its own Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. During the court-martial in Germany of three British soldiers stationed in Basra, pictures were shown that seemed to indicate the abuse of detainees in that city eclipsed even those at Abu Ghraib. The revelations had British diplomats warily eyeing the Arab response.
Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London daily al-Quds al-Arabi, said the story arrived about 8pm and he immediately decided to splash it on the front page. Some of the other papers could have done the same, he said, but "sometimes they don't evaluate the importance of things as they should".

Arab news organisations have also held back the most graphic pictures of simulated sexual acts for reasons of decency and religious sensitivity. "We can't publish that," Mr Atwan said. "People would say it's tasteless and accuse us of encouraging pornography. It's really awful, because the pictures are very scandalous."
Yet the British will stay in Iraq, and the Americans will stay, through next week's elections, through the spring, through the summer, through what few believe will be less than escalating violence, through perhaps a military encounter with Iran, the second of the tri-legged "axis of evil." And we wonder why Muslims think this is a war against Islam.


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