Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Liberators, occupiers, protectors

A very long, detailed and fair article about Iraq by Ullrich Fichtner in Der Speigel. It moves from achievement in Ramadi, to virtual despair in Baghdad and then north to hope in Mosul. It is rich in characters, American and Iraqi, and including Petraeus. How I admire the restraint of the man. His assessment has developed from [in January] "The situation is not satisfactory." to [in July] "it gives rise to hope".

Just a couple of theme quotes, but there's a lot else.

Ramadi is an irritating contradiction of almost everything the world thinks it knows about Iraq -- it is proof that the US military is more successful than the world wants to believe. Ramadi demonstrates that large parts of Iraq -- not just Anbar Province, but also many other rural areas along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers -- are essentially pacified today. This is news the world doesn't hear: Ramadi, long a hotbed of unrest, a city that once formed the southwestern tip of the notorious "Sunni Triangle," is now telling a different story, a story of Americans who came here as liberators, became hated occupiers and are now the protectors of Iraqi reconstruction.

The world has become deaf to the word "peace" -- at least when conversations turn to Iraq. It is as if the world were blind to the possibility that the situation in this country straddling the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers could be anything different from the constant stream of increasingly devastating films of the latest car bombings. For most people, Iraq has become nothing but a series of attacks, a collection of images of bombings and victims, a tale of failure, a book about historical guilt and a symbol of the moral decline of the United States of America.
The final words are
That's the situation in Iraq. A race is underway. Now every day on the calendar is historic. The future can be won or it can be gambled away.

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