Vital Signs

Palestinianization and the Iraq War

As American troops seized the center of Baghdad on April 9, looting, guerrilla warfare, and chaos continued across Iraq.  In 21 days, U.S. forces had driven to the capital of Saddam’s Iraq, though arguably Washington had been making war on this long-suffering country for over a decade—a war of economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation, propaganda, occupation by proxy (in the Kurdish north), and repeated air strikes.  Saddam’s “war machine,” the bogeyman of the war hawks, had been hollowed out long ago.  The reception has been mixed, with some hailing U.S. and British troops as liberators (though freedom for some may simply mean freedom to loot), while others have either resisted or remained wary of the occupiers.  So far, American media have struck a note of triumph and, apart from a few perceptive commentators, have failed to see the Palestinianization of the Arab world that has resulted from the Iraq conflict, something many foreign observers have noted since the early days of the war.

In the second week of the war, for instance, Asia Times commentator Pepe Escobar gauged the reaction of the Arab world to the American attack on Iraq.  The unexpected resistance of many Iraqis had, Escobar wrote, “galvanized the sentiment of anger” among Arabs.  Reporting from Jordan, Escobar noted that the “first thing” anyone (whether Jordanian, Egyptian,...

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