• Topic: Fables of the reconstruction

    USA Today

    Topic: Fables of the reconstruction

    Posted April 16, 2003 10:45 p.m.

    05/20/2005 – Updated 11:58 AM ET

    Almost over or barely started? The war winds down as the peace lurches forward, with both costs and contradictions coming into focus.

    Attention span …

    Deborah Orr of The Independent (UK), noting that “it’s a pity, really, that the level of attention afforded by the sight of war is seldom followed up by similarly stringent examination of the spectacle of its aftermath,” asks if the world has the necessary attention span to follow events in Iraq now that the pyrotechnics are mainly over. Noting that public opinion of the war in the UK has shifted profoundly since the war began, she suggests that while everyone’s up and about we might want to focus on other issues — for instance, the limits of national sovereignty. As for reconstruction, says The Nation’s Naomi Klein, it’s crucial now to keep an eye on the economic process of putting Iraq back together: “Some argue that it’s too simplistic to say this war is about oil. They’re right. It’s about oil, water, roads, trains, phones, ports and drugs. And if this process isn’t halted, “free Iraq” will be the most sold country on earth.”

    Knock knock, who’s there …

    It’s not over, by the way — fighting continues in the northern city of Mosul. The city fell with almost no resistance on Friday, but the citizens have been looting, throwing rocks, and setting things on fire ever since. Coalition troops have responded, unfortunately, with gunfire, killing 17 in the past two days according to a report on Ananova. And it’s definitely not over on the home front, either — at story on Stuff (NZ) today estimatesU.S. war costs so far at $20 billion, with projections for $10 billion spent through September… assuming the troops can all come home by then. Meanwhile, Lt. Smash – one of the very best of the in-the-field military bloggers – is apparently distracted to the point of writing little poems: Wind blew hard out of the south today. / Hot like a blast furnace. / Sand is everywhere. Near brown-out conditions. / I knew this would happen. It was inevitable. / Because I cleaned my weapon last night.

    Hide and seek and seek and seek …

    No continuing saga would be complete without ongoing speculation over the whereabouts of Saddam and his top aides. The Hindustan Times has the most interesting conjecture today: He’s in Yemen, an extraordinarily poor nation situated on the opposite side of Saudi Arabia. How on earth did he get over there? Meanwhile, we’re still without news of Salam Pax, whose still-defunct Where Is Raed? blog made such a splash in the early days of the war. Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit ponderswhether Pax was a fake, and whether we’ll ever really know. A number of blog writers are debating whether they ought as a group to call for investigation into the Pax’s fate.

    Other Web offerings

    Striving to understand …

    Attempts to discuss the importance of religion to Iraq’s past and future have all too often been met by a certain discomfort that much of American society (not least the media) feels with religion as a factor in the life of nations. A remarkable speech by Massimo Introvigne, given last week at a religious-studies conference in Lithuania, clarifies a lot of how the U.S. ended up dealing with Hussein for so many years, and why the West needs a more nuanced understanding of what it means to be a religious fundamentalist.

    Art history …

    Is David Galbraith arguing that two wrongs make a right? No, but in his blog he’s charging Western curators with a heaping helping of hypocrisy where the sacking of Baghdadi museums is concerned: “Curators are outraged by the loss of Iraqi antiquities, but unless they offer up some of their own collections they are hypocrites. Looting during war was the very process by which much of the contents of Western museums was originally obtained. There are two solutions to the loss of antiquities in Iraq: 1. document and try and get back objects as they come on the market; 2. fill the Iraqi museums with objects sitting in the U.S. and U.K. Not surprisingly I don’t hear anyone at institutions like the British Museum suggesting the latter.”

    To the woodshed …

    Still think we’re going to Syria and Iran after this? Well, never say never, but Lawrence Eagleburger, who was the first President Bush’s secretary of state, thinks it would be a breathtakingly stupid idea, according to a quote he gave to the BBC that was picked up by the (UK) Independent: “If George Bush [Jnr] decided he was going to turn the troops loose on Syria and Iran after that he would last in office for about 15 minutes. In fact if President Bush were to try that now even I would think that he ought to be impeached. You can’t get away with that sort of thing in this democracy.”

    Protests: The aftermath …

    Meanwhile, the latest edition of Nygaard Notes examines the eight reasons Minneapolitan Jeff Nygaard gave last month for eschewing the war and evaluates those reasons on the basis of what we know now. (So how’d his reasons hold up? Follow the link.) Blog writer James Landrith links to an Albany, NY Times-Union piece on pro-war “veteran” Don Neddo, who turns out never to have served: “If there is one thing that veterans of all political persuasions detest,” fumes Landrith, “it’s a poseur and liar trying to capitalize on their sacrifices. The pro-war crowd who propped this guy up as a hero should be ashamed.”

    And just one more …

    Having a better time than I was last week, wish you were here (and bringing clean water and food): Iraq4U has, still, a lovely collection of virtual postcards with touristy-but-charming photos. We hope the country looks like this again sooner rather than later.

    Angela Gunn is technology editor for Time Out New York and was a cofounder of Yahoo! Internet Life. She lives in Brooklyn.

    Originally published here: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-04-16-weblog.htm

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