Sunday, September 26

The revisionist History Channel part 2

The show is called Hard Target, and features a group of "experts" opining on a topic of the day. I usually move on to something else when it comes on, but today they are discussing Iraq, and so Far the Players are a "Playah" Micheal Rubin, from the AEI and a former Reagan Defence Department official Lawrence "of Arabia" Kolb, who was just about to explain the "Bush" Doctrine, when I paused the channel. Now on to the transcript. Actually it may be a good Idea to see if someone else has already done the work. Nope, I'll have to do it.
Hello I'm Jeff Bora, welcome to hard target, in our historical crosshairs, the Bush Doctrine and its impact on the United States, and the world. I'm joined by Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, Michael has traveled widely in post war iraq, and his book "into the shadows" goes inside modern Iran. Michael welcome to the show.

Michael: Thanks for having me Jeff

Jeff: Welcome back from Iraq

Michael: Thank you, it's good to be here

Jeff: Are you wallowing in all the electricity and creature conforts in America

Michael: Especially the air conditioning

Jeff: (laughter) Now you've traveled widely in Iraq both before the war and after the war, how has it changed?

Michael: Well before the war I was teaching for an acedemic year in Iraqi Kurdistan. This time while I visited Iraqi Kurdistan I based myself in Baghdad, as a political officer within the Coalition Provisional Authority (hearafter CPA), but rather than live inside the Green Zone the security zone, which the americans have set up, I decided to live on the street, in different neighborhoods of Baghdad, among ordinary Iraqi's

Jeff: In the so called Red Zone, the area beyond the Green Zone.

Michael: Well the thing is what the iraqi's do is call the Green Zone the Red Zone and referr to the rest of Iraq as the Green Zone, but in that capacity I was able to,

Jeff: Is this an early indication of what we are up against?

Michael: Perhaps

Jeff: We say black they say white?(laughing)

Michael: It seems to increasingly be the case, but I was able to travel down to the Shia holy towns of Najaf and Karbala, down to Basra, [alto?] Ramadi and Rallujah, and basically see Iraq along with ordinary Iraqis walking around in street clothes, and being able to get not only the interviews with the political figures, but also man on the street interviews that are simply not possible if you are a part of a military convoy.

Jeff: You're the right guy to have on the show then, because this is something that really mystifies me. If you read news reports here in the United States, there just, they're completely contradictory, some say things are going great some say things are going to pot and then one day were up the next day we're down, what is the real situation on the ground in Iraq today as experienced by someone like you traveling around the country?

Michael: Since the beginning of April things have definitely soured, with the uprising in Fallujah and the violence surrounding Muktada Al Sadr, that said, whenever I travel a country, I will look at what people are spending their money, and I dont mean restaurants and everyday purchases, I mean what they are really investing in. When someone is willing to lay down 300,000 dollars to open a resaurant in Baghdad, that indicates that they have some confidence in the future. In Sadr city which was the heart of this, the shia uprising of MAS, houses have gone from around 18,000 dollars a piece, under Saddam to around 54,000 dollors a piece today, likewise in the upper middle class section of Mansur, houses are going for well over a million. People only spend that kind of money, if they feel that its gonna be theirs that there is not gonna be anarchy and chaos, likewise one of the things I'll also do is look at the situation of the women in these countries.

When I came to Baghdad last July I would see very few women on the street and those that I did see would be walking around basically covered all in black. When I asked my Iraqi friends who were accomanying me, what was going on, they said that it wasn't out of religious conviction, it was out of fear, security, women were afraid frankly of being kidnapped or raped, but starting around October I began to see women on the streets, teenaged girls together without men, without their families around, window shopping, hanging out in Ice cream parlors, at restaurants and that sort of thing.

Jeff: We often hear a reference to a silent majority in Iraq that really wants stabilization, that really wants good relations with the United states and other powers in the region and that this whole thing is being hijacked by some extremist
minority, is that the case from your experiance from your contacts there.

Michael: Yes yes there are two issues there's defininately a silent majority I would actuially argue that the silent mahjority is sitting on the fence one of the issues the phenomina which the us govt most underestimated before the war to liberate iraq was just the impact of 1991 on the shia community. On February 15, 1991,the former president Bush, got up and claled on iraqi's to rise up and overthrow Saddam, they did we failed to support them, 10's of thousands were massacred. iraqi's aren't convinced that we're actually going to stay the course and not hand them over to the radical minority again, thats really hampered us, plus all the.......

Damn the time ran out, mental not next time, record the damn thing.
Too bad that I ran "out of tape" but there were some fine nuggets from Fanasy Land in the little that I managed to get down.