The Daily Beast has two pieces about Iraq’s election up on their website. One is written by Tunku Varadarajan, headlined “Iraq’s Political Miracle” and the other is written by me, titled “Iraq’s Last Election?” Clearly, Mr. Varadarajan see things a little differently from the way I do.
What amuses me most, though, is that we both warn readers about each other in a generic way. The top of his story says that critics will “escalate their grumbling” (as a critic, my grumbling has been escalated , it’s true) while I note we should expect “a rash of commentary and columns from once-upon-a time war supporters” who will tell us that Iraq is on “the road to freedom.” Mr. Varadarajan then spends his column explaining that Iraq is on the road to freedom, deeming any evidence to the contrary inconsequential.
Anyway, readers, have a look at both. I’ll leave it up to you to decide who you think has the more credible outlook. Though an old journalistic witticism does come to mind: You should only write about countries you’ve flown over.
But I do want to take issue with one of Mr. V’s claim, oft repeated by types of certain ideological persuasions. That Iraq is somehow the envy of the Middle East because they have yearly photo-ops with purple fingers. It’s really not. Almost all the reporting I have done in the region suggests the opposite. Even among Western minded, secular, liberal Arabs. A) They don’t think Iraq is a democracy, they think it’s country run by criminals and thugs. B) They see the Iraq War as fundamentally tragic and stupid. C) They see the U.S.’s intervention as having a rather negative and profoundly counterproductive impact on political development in the region.
So. I’m going to stop myself there, as I don’t want to miss my flight. Naturally.