Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Thursday, April 10, 2003  


The coalition has taken Baghdad. Apart from pockets of resistance, they're in control throughout the country. Saddam Hussein's reign is ended. This war is over.

The BBC's Rageh Omaar opined that we shouldn't overestimate the significance of the last 24 hours. Perhaps he was seeking to justify his own less-than-journalistic exuberance from before, when he was caught up with Baghdadis and American soldiers who were joyously pulling down a statue of Iraq's erstwile ruler.

Or maybe he is right. And not just because 25 years of (one brand of) authoritarianism have come to an end. Maybe that image, of gum-chewing American soldiers draping the Stars and Stripes over the head of the statue of Saddam Hussein, an image that the world, East and West, North and South, saw live, will be looked back upon someday, and maybe someday soon, as a portent.

But of what?

If the past three weeks have taught us anything - and by "us" I mean those who were, in the main, against this war, but for the removal of Saddam Hussein - surely it's that things are greyer, more ambiguous, more uncertain than ever.

Saddam Hussein is gone. Many Iraqis are happy. Some are indignant. Many - most, perhaps - are neither. Relieved, maybe even glad, that Saddam is no more; but finding it hard to accept that forces from America and Britain - who was once Iraq's colonial mistress - now in effect rule their nation.

And perhaps this too is the sentiment throughout most of the Arab world; the feeling that yes, Saddam was a bastard, but he was our bastard, for us to deal with (or not, as was the case most of the time). Perhaps the governments in other non-democratic Arab states (ie all of them) are now fearing what they will call the white/Western/Christian/Israeli-influenced Americanisation, and what America will simply (and simplistically) call the democratisation, of the entire Arab/Muslim world. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new age. Again, what of, I've no clue.

Or perhaps history will repeat itself, and America will hang around for a couple of years, and prop up a puppet regime; then perhaps there'll be a revolution, or they'll lose interest, and they'll pull out, as happened in Cuba, and in Haiti, and wherever else the US has left its mark.

In the coming weeks and months, writers, journalists, commentators, academics, "experts" and politicians will be making grand pronouncements as to what lies ahead for Iraq, the Arab world and the human race. Civil war. World War III, Clash of Civilisations, New World Order, etc. They will end on a note of cautious optimism, or bleak realism, or else just state that what will happen "remains to be seen". (Well of course it "remains" to be seen. It hasn't happened yet.)

As for your humble blogger, I'm with Elvis Costello on this one:

Each time I feel like this inside
There's one thing I want to know
What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?

posted by Jonathan | 12:30 AM 0 comments


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