Embedded with the military must be a euphemism for in bed with the military, which is how a truly shameful episode in American TV journalism is shaping up. For journalistic jingoism, it’s hard to find a better example than the coverage of the high-tech media extravaganza known as “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” What makes the supposed American champions of objectivity so much more obnoxious is that they parade flagrant bias as gritty and honest reporting.
This invasion is causing a tectonic shakeup around the Arab world, but we Americans and our reporters don’t want to know. We continue to cling unhealthily to the Walt Disney worldview whereby the grateful infantile Iraqis will soon rejoice at the sight of the noble, wise American liberators, and all will live happily ever after.
As the Washington Post reported, however, instead of greeting the U.S. troops as liberators, dozens of Iraqis surrounded the first humanitarian aid trucks to reach Safwan and shouted anti-American slogans. “With our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, Saddam,” they chanted. Queuing for water, an Iraqi in the South told an Egyptian television reporter that he did not want his country to be occupied by foreign forces. (You did know that, thanks to the “liberators,” many Iraqis have been without water, electricity and sanitation services.)
Those of us who warned of the backlash are told that we are bound by some social contract to keep quiet. “Boobus Americanus,” you see, wants to conquer, colonize and stay comatose. Fat chance, and as I predicted weeks back, “However oppressed, people would sooner deal with their homey Hun than submit to a foreign force, even if it comes bearing ready-made instant democracy.”
Not that you would know it from the depictions on American networks, but even moderates like the Egyptians and Jordanians are taking their fury against American aggression to the streets. In fact, where there is already a healthy hatred for Saddam, it hasn’t dampened the hate for America. In Tehran, demonstrators simply chanted “Death to America, Death to Saddam.” Nor has the illegality of public demonstrations in most Arab states dammed up the overflowing damnation. The streets seethed alike in Dubai, in non-Arab Muslim Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, in non-Muslim South Korea and in India. The entire Arab world – from unusual suspects like mild-mannered professionals to usual suspects like Islamist militants – has united in issuing a rousing condemnation of this invasion.
Yet to listen to the reports on our television, Iraqis are the odd ones out – they can barely conceal their merriment, and, if not for fear of Saddam, whose grip on power is tenuous, Iraqis would be doing the Debka (an Arabic traditional dance) in the streets.
“Bush is an occupier and terrorist,” said George Elnaber, 36, an Arab Christian from Amman. “He thought he was playing a video game. We hate Americans more than we hate Saddam now,” he boomed. In Syria, a young student, who witnessed a U.S. missile accidentally hitting a busload of civilians, muttered to the Reuters news agency how she “wanted to kill, not only curse.” “America is our enemy now,” Ali Sabry, 43, a building attendant in Cairo, told the Post. “They have millions of Muslims praying against them every day.” Leila, a Saudi physician, described by the Post as a “svelte woman in her mid-40s,” says she “would prefer to have someone like Saddam rule all the Arab world than have America here.”
American troops in the Iraqi desert were victims of the first suicide bomber. Flocking to join him now are thousands of Muslims from Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia, all seeking to carry out “martyrdom operations” against the invaders.
Not only has Bush radicalized the Arab Street, but he has also gone and united fundamentalist and moderate secular Arabs in a common cause! There was no love lost between al-Qaida and the Iraqis – the CIA itself said so. Brilliant Bush has bridged that divide.
Surprise, surprise: Iraq was invaded – but “coalition forces” are now complaining bitterly that Iraqis are not respecting the Geneva Convention.
Isn’t the nation that has been aggressed against justified in deploying all methods to repel the invader? Would anyone have flinched if, in 1990, Kuwaitis had gone all out against the invading Iraqis? If my home were broken into, and if I ruthlessly eliminated the burglar, even when he assured me he was there to ultimately improve my lot, would I be without logical warrant? Or as a 33-year-old Shiite told the Los Angeles Times: “Do you allow someone to enter your home and force you out of it?”
It’d be good of the Iraqis if they adhered to the Geneva Convention, but for the Pocahontas Partners to feign shock and indignation at Iraq’s lack of commitment to the Convention is most peculiar.