Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"The illusionists"

Billmon must be heard.
There are several recent articles on the Iraq War that are probably worth a read -- that is, if you're the kind of person who likes to slow down and gawk at horrible car crashes on the freeway. Even the New Pravda is getting into the act, as the above quote, from John Burns, one of the paper's Baghdad correspondents, signifies.

But the most interesting thing about Burns's piece isn't what it tells about Iraq now -- when the descent into chaos is obvious to all -- but what it tells about the high command's views a year ago:
As Iraq resumed its sovereignty after the period of American occupation, the new American team that arrived then, headed by Ambassador John D. Negroponte, had a withering term for the optimistic approach of their predecessors, led by L. Paul Bremer III.

The new team called the departing Americans "the illusionists," for their conviction that America could create a Jeffersonian democracy on the ruins of Saddam Hussein's medieval brutalism. One American military commander began his first encounter with American reporters by asking, "Well, gentlemen, tell me: Do you think that events here afford us the luxury of hope?"
This is not, however, what John F. Burns and the New Pravda were telling us at the time. Rather, we were treated to tabloid-like coverage of Saddam's arraignment, cautiously optimistic takes on the transfer of "sovereignty" to CIA puppet Iyad Allawi, and warm and fuzzy profiles of Bremer, which gave us some need-to-know factoids about his passion for gourmet cooking...


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