Thursday, August 28, 2003

Worth Reading: USA Today looks at the story that bloggers have been telling for weeks:
Lost amid news of the horrific attacks and Iraqis' complaints about the disorder that war has brought to their nation are signs that this capital city of more than 5 million people is slowly returning to normal and that most people are getting on with their lives.
Iraqis seem to be coming to terms with a couple of facts. First, the U.S. can't simply hand them back a functioning society:
Protests and complaints have dogged the coalition government since Baghdad fell in April. But some Iraqis caution not to read too much into them. They say many Iraqis had unrealistic expectations.

"The image of the United States in the Iraqi mentality is that it is supernatural," says Usama Al-Duri, a professor of Iraqi-American relations at Baghdad University. "That supernatural entity is now on the streets of Baghdad, not just on TV," and it isn't looking so all-powerful.

And nothing's going to happen without the help of the Iraqis themselves:
The United States is making some headway in getting Iraqis to cooperate and participate in government. At first, Iraqis were wary. Slowly, people are coming forward, and in meetings around the country, many Iraqis are building working relationships with U.S. military and civilian officials.
The realization is there, too, that despite the failures of the American presence, occupation is, on balance, the right path:
A half-dozen Iraqi businessmen meet regularly to share kebabs and chew over the issues of the day in the office of one of the men on Harithiyah Street in Baghdad. To a man, they say the U.S.-led coalition is botching the effort to restore order.

But asked who should lead the country, they are equally unanimous. "I would recommend an American," says Kaldoun Abdulatif Othman, 48, an engineer.

Above all, Iraqis seem resigned to the difficult reality that this will all take time:
Muhsin Hamid Akar, 32, has been doing a brisk business selling satellite phones from a small store in another part of downtown Baghdad. He urges his fellow Iraqis to be patient: "A man gets the flu, it takes seven days to recover. After 35 years of dictatorship, what can anyone expect?"
Good point.

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