The Economist on Iraq


Political Theatrics
September 2, 2010

The Economist is always an interesting newspaper to read. For myself, I’m especially fascinated with the uniquely Western perspective that it portrays as neutral and balanced. In their recent issue they ponder over Iraq’s uncertain future and in one part of the article they say:

For their part, the people of Iraq never learned to trust, let alone like, the Americans. Yet public opinion has shifted remarkably in recent weeks. After countless American warnings of their imminent departure, all met with stubborn Iraqi insistence that the “occupiers” would never leave, the penny has suddenly dropped. [Emphasis added]

This is a nice paragraph. In one fell swoop it addresses that Arab mind and its love of conspiracies, it affirms the importance of America’s invasion and occupation of Iraq and it continues the enduring myth that the natives cannot go it alone without Western arms and brains.

What does The Economist mean when it says “the penny has suddenly dropped”. It means that these pesky natives were always suspicious of the well-meaning White Man’s intentions. These suspicions were fuelling insecurity but now the clever American has called this bluff and really done it – the newspaper is saying “let us see these children sort themselves out now”, because the Arab will never be able to do anything on their own. It’s the Arab mind you see…

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Also interesting to note is that the public opinion which has “shifted remarkably” for The Economist is expressed in the piece by a ‘Wesam’ who, it is claimed, is a junior army officer. Well yes, it is true that the fledgling Iraqi ‘army’ that the Americans have created will fear the loss of American troops, but where is the public opinion? Does that mean that the entire Iraqi people were mistaken in opposing America’s invasion and occupation of their country? Apparently that’s what The Economist thinks. Fair enough. But wait, the “positive side” to the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, an occupation which the Economist always seems to put in quotation marks, is that the “tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein” was ended. Yes, he was a thug, but for some reason the public opinion that remarkably shifted to viewing his rule with sympathy compared with the American occupation is not something The Economist is interested in. No, it is far more important to read the musings of a junior officer in an Iraqi “Vichy” army as the public opinion of Iraq.

Far more serious than the above is what The Economist views as progress in the country. Only the “tyrannical” Saddam’s deputy, Izzat al Douri, has eluded capture. So that’s a good thing, the ancien regime is extinct. Also, American soldiers were “flexible enough to change tactics”, by this The Economist means it “recruited local allies”, meaning the Sahwa groups. The Sahwa groups were paid money to fight for the Americans, if somebody paid them more then they would go fight for the otherside. Therefore these are not allies. The Americans effectively hired local mercenaries to do the dirty work for them. Also, apparently this is a good alternative to the “unadulterated fire power” that the American troops favoured at first. Well I suppose that must be a good thing. The rest of the article bashes the new Iraqi “straw-man” for being incompetent and not sorting out his security and politics fast enough for America’s liking.

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