clap clap blog: we have moved

Thursday, April 10, 2003
Is anyone else, besides me, Al-Jazeera, and some un-embedded British journalists like Robert Fisk, a little skeptical of the authenticity of some of the reactions of the Baghdad citizenry to the invasion of US Marines? I mean, these are the descendents of people who have been invaded so many times by so many people that I'm sure they can fake it for the cameras and the rifles in order to survive? As Robert Fisk writes from, I think, a bombed out hotel next to the half-fallen statue of Saddam Hussein:

For even as the marine tanks thrashed and ground down the highway, there were men and women who saw them and stood, the women scarved, the men observing the soldiers with the most acute attention, who spoke of their fear for the future, who talked of how Iraq could never be ruled by foreigners.

"You'll see the celebrations and we will be happy Saddam has gone," one of them said to me. "But we will then want to rid ourselves of the Americans and we will want to keep our oil and there will be resistance and then they will call us "terrorists". Nor did the Americans look happy "liberators". They pointed their rifles at the pavements and screamed at motorists to stop – one who did not, an old man in an old car, was shot in the head in front of two French journalists. [snip more gruesome examples]

And so last night, as the explosion of tank shells still crashed over the city, Baghdad lay at the feet of a new master. They have come and gone in the city's history, Abbasids and Ummayads and Mongols and Turks and British and now the Americans. The United States embassy reopened yesterday and soon, no doubt, when the Iraqis have learned to whom they must now be obedient friends, President Bush will come here and there will be new "friends" of America to open a new relationship with the world, new economic fortunes for those who "liberated" them [snip the Israel stuff].

But winning a war is one thing. Succeeding in the ideological and economic project that lies behind this whole war is quite another. The "real" story for America's mastery over the Arab world starts now.

The military campaign may be short, but this occupation is the quagmire. These people are patient.