"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

June 29, 2006

Reader Phil L. recommends this interview of journalist Nir Rosen by Buzzflash. Here's just one excerpt:

BuzzFlash: If we go outside of the green zone, are there any people who support the American occupation?

Nir Rosen: The Kurds definitely do, but they don’t see American troops in Kurdistan. The Kurds have it very well under their control. The Kurds would like to have American bases there. As for the rest of Iraq, the Arabs of Iraq -- very, very little support, and it’s dwindling. At some points in the beginning, you had Shias who wanted the Americans to stay for a few years. But as Shias have taken control of Iraq, they see no reason more and more for the Americans to be there.

So you might start seeing a strange reversal of things. Sunnis are going to start wanting the Americans to stay because they’ll view the Americans in the same way -- as the only thing protecting them from being completely kicked out of Iraq. So I would say that most Iraqis want the Americans out. And many Iraqis are employed in some way by the Americans, meaning Iraqi business earned profits from the occupation. So they want the Americans to stay. But the Americans aren’t really doing anything positive right now. They’re just one more militia among the many militias there. One day they attack Shias, and Sunnis are celebrating. When the Americans attack Sunnis, Shias celebrate.

What struck me in 2005, and in my last trip several weeks ago, was that, in Baghdad, you used to see the American occupation. You used to feel it. When you were stuck in traffic, there was an American tank next to you. There were American patrols walking the streets. There were American vehicles constantly on the streets. But now, you just don’t see that anymore. You might see the occasional American helicopter.

Now what you see is this weird Iraqi occupation of Baghdad. The militias and security forces wear masks. They zoom through traffic. They point their machine guns at everybody. They’re shouting at the microphones. It’s much scarier -- this new domination of Iraq by weird, unnamed mass security forces. Americans just don’t really matter, I think.

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