March 27, 2003

Letters Department A reader writes

Letters Department

A reader writes in re: my somewhat gloomy Safwan post below: "You are not getting the full picture. Saddam's loyalists are still active there. Yesterday, a woman who greeted the British troops was found swinging by the neck from a tree. Reprisals have occurred to others, too. Plus, these Iraqis you speak of were on camera and knew it. After we abandoned them to slaughter in '91, the Iraqi Shia are understandably cautious about jumping into our arms so soon. They do not know for sure which way this thing is going to turn out. They do not know our level of committment."

I agree with all these sentiments, some of which are also reflected in Bill Safire's column today. In addition, reports that Iraqi officers are threatening to shoot soldiers who don't fight are increasingly popping up (for instance, here and here).

In short, we shouldn't necessarily get too caught up in speculation that anti-U.S nationalistic sentiment is sweeping Iraq despite widespread hatred for Saddam. But let's not instead get overly triumphalist and believe that we are going to be greeted with warm emotive outbursts the minute Saddam's loyalists are dead or captured or that the population is convinced that, this time contra 1991, we are committed for the long haul. The reality likely resides somewhere in the murky middle.

By the way, regarding reader mail, let me note that I will take the liberty of quoting letter writers by name unless the writer expressly requests that I not do so. And while on the subject of such in-house matters, a quick thank you to Andrew Sullivan and Dan Drezner for their recent links to my site. I hope the readers who have thereby been introduced to the Belgravia Dispach will keep coming around!

Posted by Gregory at March 27, 2003 10:28 AM
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