October 30, 2004


Bush Voters in Baghdad: Liberal Iraqis almost all hope for the president's re-election. (LAWRENCE F. KAPLAN, October 30, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

We know what John Kerry thinks of Iraq. But what does Iraq think of him? Since he may soon be presiding over a war there, the question merits an answer. Yet, while the press has devoted page after page to the electoral preferences of the French, the opinions of those who count most overseas have received nary a mention.

Partly this derives from the simple fact that, as polls show, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis don't care who wins our election. Their concerns run closer to home--especially how to stay alive. There's an exception, however: the thousands of academics, lawyers, rights advocates and other educated elites leading the effort to create a new Iraq--nearly all of whom have hitched their fortunes to our own and nearly all of whom hope that President Bush wins.

Liberal Iraqis repeat the same question: Will the U.S. leave? These, after all, are the Iraqis building institutions, occupying key positions in ministries, and cooperating openly with the U.S. And they're the Iraqis with the most to lose in the event John Kerry makes good on his pledge to "bring the troops home where they belong."

This prospect, once unimaginable, has become very real in Iraq. The fear of abandonment has transformed meetings between Iraqi and U.S. officials, until recently arenas for grievance, into forums for the expression of solidarity. Leading Iraqis stayed up late into the night to watch the presidential debates. "Sophisticated Iraqis are listening closely," Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak Al-Rubaie says in a telephone interview. "Any discussion of withdrawal worries them." Echoing this, Manhel al-Safi, who recently left his post as an aide in the prime minister's office for a job in the Foreign Ministry, says, "There's a level of fear--people in the government are afraid the Americans will leave Iraq."

It's not the Iraqis who should be afraid--the Senator would have no choice but to back them until the elections are held. It's the rest of the democrats in the Middle East who should be scared, because he prefers their quiet oppression to their messy freedom.

The Election and America's Future (EDMUND S. MORGAN, New Haven, Connecticut, 11/04/04, NY Review of Books)

It may take many years to recover what we have lost. We cannot restore the lives lost in Iraq, the lives of our soldiers, none of whom deserved to die for us, and the many more lives of the people we have professed to liberate in a war fought under false pretenses. But we can dismiss the people responsible for the other horrors committed in our name. Our self-respect, and the respect of the rest of the world for us as a people, hang on the next election. The damage now being done can be stopped. Some of it can be reversed. But the longer it goes on the less reversible it becomes.

Mr. Morgan is a great historian, but let's see him face the Iraqi people and tell them their freedom wasn't worth a single American life.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 30, 2004 4:55 PM

I urge everyone to see the recently released independent film "Voices of Iraq." It is stunning, it will change you; it also argues quite convincingly for the greatness of GWBush.

Posted by: JimGooding at October 30, 2004 5:49 PM

It's not the Iraqis who should be afraid--the Senator would have no choice but to back them until the elections are held.

Don't count on it. This is the guy who bugged out on his "band of brothers" within seconds of that third Purple Heart.

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 30, 2004 7:46 PM

"the lives of our soldiers, none of whom deserved to die for us"

Sheesh. I despair for our future.

Posted by: brian at October 30, 2004 7:56 PM

"The lives of our soldiers, none of whom deserved to die for us"

If you grant that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, then it's interesting to consider that the patriotism of our current elite is basically projection. They can bear to identify with their country only by imagining that it deserves the same hatred they bear for themselves. And within that frame of reference, they're absolutely right. No serviceman ought to suffer or die for the likes of Michael Moore.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 30, 2004 9:44 PM