Friday, May 30, 2003
By Steven Taylor

Robert Pollock’s piece in the WSJ is worth a read. Some excerpts:

Among the thousands of friends and relatives who have come to this mass grave near Hilla to find their loved ones, there is surprisingly little bitterness against the U.S. for encouraging and then abandoning that rebellion. Some even express hope that Iraq could become an American state. “Saddam, Saddam,” one man mutters in disbelief, staring at the bodies. “Television only show Iraq Ali Baba [Iraqis as thieves],” complains another of the foreign media’s fixation with looting, “not show this.”

Not surprisingly, none of these people thinks that finding weapons of mass destruction is critical to the case for war. The old regime did most of its dirty work the old-fashioned way, with a pistol to the head. Nor are they alarmed, like so many distant pundits, that Iraq has traded tyranny for anarchy. Even a messy freedom is something to savor.

And this illustrates something I have been thinking for a while:

Before travelling to Baghdad, I had dinner with a Palestinian economist in Amman. I told him that conventional wisdom among antiwar Americans was that the U.S. had squandered a great reservoir of international sympathy by attacking Iraq. He laughed. What sympathy? Most of his acquaintances were happy about, or at best indifferent to, the blow America suffered on Sept. 11, 2001.

I have long thought that the arguments that we had this vast reservoir of good will out in the world was off the mark. Global responses to 9/11 were emotional and ephemeral–the idea that one could put the good will in a bottle and use it later was ludicrious. And let’s face facts–even our allies want power and economic success vis-a-vis the USA, goodwill or no, and our enemies want to destroy us. 9/11 didn’t change those facts, and neither did Gulf War II.

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