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:: Monday, May 05, 2003 ::

Instapundit alerted me to this Tim Judah article from The New York Review of Books. It is a fascinating account of the The Fall of Baghdad

The evening after Saddam's statue fell, I had tea with a group of middle-class men who were playing dominoes at a small outdoor tea shop. Ahmed, a retired air force pilot, told me that in his opinion one of Saddam's fatal mistakes had been to rely on various militias, such as the Fedayeen of Saddam, the Jerusalem Army, and the militia of the Baath Party. The problem with them, he said, was that they were not real professionally trained soldiers; it was not therefore surprising that most of the resistance had collapsed. "A civilian is not able to fight like a military man," he said.

In fact, I had met Ahmed ten days before at another tea shop and we had had a guarded conversation then about the numbers of bombs dropped on the nearby Air Force Ministry. Now some of Ahmed's friends were surrounding us and giving their opinions on what was going on, about the future, and about what they thought of various exiled politicians, including Baqir al-Hakim, who is in Tehran, and Ahmed Chalabi, who has US backing, and was about to arrive with a number of his fellow exiles in Nasiriya. There were, unsurprisingly, many conflicting opinions. Hakim was a good man, some thought; Chalabi was, or was not, a crook, others thought; the Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani was a traitor for making a deal with the Americans, and so on. Ahmed said he hoped the Americans would set up a transitional government without these men, and with technocrats instead. "For example the minister of health should have experience in his field." It struck me that it was a stunning event that this discussion, which already seemed quite normal, was now taking place in Baghdad. "When was the last time we could have talked openly like this?" I asked Ahmed. He took a while to reply. "When I was student in 1967," he said.

I then asked Ahmed, "Do you feel as if your country has been occupied?" His reply was, "Definitely." I said, "But you just told me you could not have talked openly like this since 1967, so don't you feel that this is also a liberation?" He replied, "Well, yes." "So perhaps there is an odd contradiction. Occupation and liberation both at the same time?" He and his friends argued about this. "Yes," he said, "that is true." "What next?" I asked, and he pointed across the street to where a house had been leveled, not by bombs but because someone had cleared away an old house. "That is where we are now. We need a shovel to build something new."

Glenn Reynold's also has links to a few more stories of looting and mayhem in such out of the way places as Canada and the U.N offices in New York. Simply shocking!

:: Mark 10:00 AM [+] ::
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