The Curmudgeon


Monday, January 31, 2005

News 2020

Easily digestible facts for the modern news consumer

In the event, polling day in the Democratic Republic of Baghdad passed rather quietly. Certainly, after the long buildup of insurgent terrorist violence during the buildup, it was a relief that only 36 Iraqis were killed on the day itself - as the London Times and Australo-American Stormtrooper observed, a price well worth paying for freedom.

Deaths among real people were fewer, though probably just as heartrending for some. A helicopter crash in which 12 SAS men died was originally classified as an accident, until it was remembered that the Relative Agony Act passed two years ago forbids accidents on active duty, so as to protect personnel from the risk of substandard equipment.

But despite the threat of terrorist bombs, thousands of Baghdadis, many of them typical, braved the streets to vote.

"I'm proud to vote in the election," said Shimon as he cast his ballot. "We have very little food or uncontaminated water; the electricity is off for up to twenty hours a day; medicines are virtually nonexistent, but at least we have ballot boxes and are free."

Another, less typical Iraqi said that Saddam Hussein had kept the shops full and the power on for many years. "That was when the Americans were supporting him," she said. "So perhaps if we do as the Americans tell us today, another Saddam Hussein will come along and get things running again." But that Iraqi was a very old Iraqi and hardly typical at all.

"When I look at the ink on my finger, this is a mark of freedom," said Kassim, an entrepreneur who sees the Allied presence as a challenge and an opportunity. Many of the insurgents may see the Allies as merely foreign occupiers of "their" country, but according to Kassim, "They are wrong!" With a cheerful grin, he wished the Israelis well in their fence-building with the Palestinians.

As we walked back up the hotel driveway from the gate through which these interviews were carried out, one of the Iraqis who cannot vote even today gave us the thumbs-up and pronounced three syllables which showed that even he, at less than three years old, knew what was going on: "Em! Tee! Vee!"

Somehow, one thinks at moments such as this, somehow it must all be worth while.


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