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No Right Turn: Shock, Elation, Horror And Hope

Shock, Elation, Horror And Hope

By Idiot Savant

I didn't have access to a TV while I was away (in fact, due to a screwup by the power company, I didn't even have electricity on my first night), so I had to get all my news on the uprising in Iraq from the Net. I spent my infrequent logins siting there being progressively more and more shocked by what I read. Demonstrations greeted with gunfire. Clashes between US troops and Shi'ite militia. A bloodbath in Ramadi. Guerillas actually seizing control of Najaf and Kut. Fallujah being strafed by AC130s (can you get any more indiscriminate?), leading to hundreds of civillian casulaties. Hell in a handbasket, practically overnight.

Shocked, but also elated, because Iraqis were fighting to free themselves from an occupation which long ago lost any pretence of moral legitimacy. The people doing so may be thugs and fanatics, but I cannot condemn their efforts. A little more than a year ago I said that I wanted the Iraqi people to win, and I stand by that: Iraq should be ruled by and for Iraqis. The United States has worked against that goal at every turn, undermining the possibility of elections and attempting to install an unelected puppet regime to rubberstamp their decisions. They deserve to be overthrown. To steal a line from Bush, any future the Iraqi people choose for themselves will be better than what Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Achmed Chalabi have chosen for them - simply because it will be their choice, rather than that of their occupiers.

There's also horror as well, because (to state the blindingly obvious) people are being killed and injured, and the vast majority of them are civillians. I prefer bloodless revolutions as a rule, such as those which occured in Yugoslavia and Georgia (OK, while neither was entirely blodless, both were much closer to the ideal). But civil disobediance and mass protest only work against governments which are "nice", and I'm not sure that the US Army with its twitchy trigger-fingers and emphasis on force protection really qualifies.

And finally, there's hope. What ought to be scary for the Americans is that this is no longer about "Ba'athist diehards", "foreign fighters", or "Islamic fundamentalists"; it seems to have become a true popular uprising which has united both Sunni and Shi'a. That is something of an achievement for the Americans, though a rather ironic one. Last year, everyone was worried about Iraq disintegrating into civil war - now it looks as if shared struggle against the occupation will be what holds it together.

Four emotions, deep ambivalence. I don't like bloodshed, but I can't condemn the people commiting it. Insofar as they are working to free Iraq, and not killing too many people in the process, their cause is just. Which is more than I can really say for the poor US soldiers being sent in to put them down.

**** ENDS ****

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