In The Daily Beast a roundup of reactions to Obama’s speech last night. One caught my eye – a piece by a LA Times correspondent who had covered the war and went back to talk to her Iraqi contacts:
“Bush had a project in the Middle East,” said my friend Raheem, “and the politician who wants to do something, he has to create his justifications, his excuses, to do it.”
Raheem, who lost a son to a stray American bullet a few years ago, is a pragmatic and pious Shiite Muslim who argues that while the cost of the invasion was high, Iraqis now have their first opportunity to do what they want–whether that means building a secular democracy or a religious autocracy.
“We feel that Bush has done something good for us, despite all the mistakes,” said Raheem, as we made our way through the dusty streets of Baghdad. “It’s politics. In politics you look at your interests. OK, many Americans were killed, and many Iraqis were killed. But still, if he hadn’t interfered, Saddam would have stayed, and we would have been ruled by his sons, his daughters, and his grandchildren.”
It bothers me that the reactions to the war here – kneejerk on both the right and left – doesn’t spend enough time asking the Iraqis themselves.