Iraq: Image and Reality
"Iraq is like a French cheese that can’t be pasteurized for the palates of a reading public that has grown up on Kraft slices of Good Guy/Bad Guy. Of course, Iraq has good guys and bad guys; they just switch roles a lot depending on our perspective."An amusing analogy from a very engaging article by Patrick Graham in a recent cover story in Maclean's. The title of the article is "How George Bush became the new Saddam," but Bush is actually given little attention. Presumably it has something to do with the fact that Washington has now allied itself with a lot of Saddam's supporters -- the very insurgents responsible for killing most of the American troops who have died in the conflict -- but part of me suspects the title was chosen to justify running a cover image of the American president sporting a Saddamesque moustache and military garb.
Graham lived in Iraq for a couple of years, and has a highly developed sense of what is actually happening on the ground -- and in the minds of ordinary Iraqi people. One of the salient themes of this piece is the disjunction between the popular western conceptions of the Iraqi situation on the one hand, and the actual social/religious/ethnic/political reality on the other. It's a lengthy article, but definitely worth reading.
Check it out here.