Friday, January 28, 2005

Our Question of the Week

Continuing on the theme of Rising Hegemon community interaction (that Attaturk has added to with his new weekly feature) we ask our question of the week.

I didn't see it but now wish I had; John Burns on Topic A with Tina Brown. Highlights from two places. First, Juan Cole.

It is 2005, and the US has been running Iraq for nearly two years. Now the question is, how does the situation in Iraq compare to the Philippines, or India, or Turkey. Answer: It sucks. There is little security, people are killed daily, there is a massive crime wave, and elections are being held in which most of the candidates cannot be identified for fear of their lives. So the conclusion is that the Bush administration has done a worse job in Iraq than the Congress Party does in India, or the AK Party does in Turkey. That's the standard of comparison once Saddam was gone. And, by the way, veteran NYT journalist John Burns, who is nobody's fool, told Tina Brown last Friday that he was taken aback when an Iraqi told him recently that he wished Saddam were back. This was an Iraqi who really had been delighted at the American invasion. So Bush should drop the cute sound bite about being better than Saddam.

The second, Gawker.

Thankfully, we were spared the inauguration fashion wrap, which was marginalized by a satellite interview with wild-haired New York Times Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns. Tina asked, "How much can the average Iraqi take before it's safer to collaborate with the insurgents?" Burns replied it's already happened and citizens are now missing the stability of Saddam Hussein. He said that "there is virtually no safe hide-away for any American or foreigner," even in the fortified Green Zone.

Burns predicted low turnout for the election (which is only for a transitional government) and fears a civil war "over who rules Iraq in the long term." He said the military has learned from their mistakes, and though "this is very much touch-and-go," he is impressed by their actions.

Our question: How imminent is civil war and what will be America's reaction?

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