Kicking a home goal

Rod Norland, Newsweek’s Baghdad bureau chief, is about to leave Iraq after two years of service. He was an early supporter of the invasion:

“Two years ago I went to Iraq as an unabashed believer in toppling Saddam Hussein. I knew his regime well from previous visits; WMDs or no, ridding the world of Saddam would surely be for the best, and America’s good intentions would carry the day. What went wrong?”

Today, however, he’s less optimistic, arguing that America has blown its chance of establishing democracy and appears incapable of maintaining security.

Norland’s comments are instructive for a few reasons. Firstly, like much of the American media, he was initially convinced that democracy could in fact be imported and that American intentions were wholesome. And like much of the mainstream media, his so-called left-wing bias is nowhere to be found. Secondly, how did his blind support for American power affect his journalism? Was he cheerleading for the home team? Thirdly, he appears comfortable blaming the current quagmire in Iraq on American mistakes, rather than systemic corruption. Is he unwilling to acknowledge the true reasons behind the invasion? To read a senior American reporter expressing such admiration for American foreign policy is both pathetic and disturbing.

Norland is to be congratulated for finally seeing what many critics of the war have said all along. What if, we said, and despite charges of being Saddam apologists, oppressed people actually didn’t want to be ruled by an occupying power? We are currently seeing the failure to listen to those warnings.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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