August 17, 2003

TOM FRIEDMAN WRITES:

Many Iraqis today express real resentment for the other Arab regimes, and even toward the Palestinians, for how they let themselves be bought off by Saddam. They feel that Saddam used the Iraqi people’s oil wealth to buy popularity for himself in the Arab street — by giving Palestinians and other Arab students scholarships and nice apartments in Baghdad, and by paying off all sorts of Arab nationalist writers and newspapers. And then these same Arab intellectuals and media gave Saddam a free pass to torture, repress and starve his own people. In other words, “Arabism,” in the minds of many Iraqis, is the cloak that Saddam hid behind to imprison them for 35 years, and now that they can say that out loud, they are saying it.

You’d never know this from watching Arab satellite television like Al Jazeera. Because although these stations have 21st-century graphics, they’re still dominated by 1950’s Nasserite political correctness — which insists that dignity comes from how you resist the foreigner, even if he’s come as a liberator, not by what you build yourself.

But the truth will come out. . . .

Indeed.

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