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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

11 Years Ago: Iraq No Vietnam. Right?

At my magazine, E&P, Chris Hedges had been warning about this for weeks.  But on this date in 2003 the first deep doubts about what would happen after the U.S. took Baghdad appeared in the NYT.  Veteran reporter Ethan Bronner noted at NYT  "muted" Iraqi response to U.S. liberators.  Nick Kristof opened his NYT column ten years ago today from Iraq with this: "Let's be clear: Iraq will not turn into another Vietnam."  The war would end in a matter of days.  Whoops.  But Kristof did add:   "Yet if this isn't Vietnam, neither is it the Afghanistan campaign, where we were hailed as liberators. I was in Afghanistan during that war, and the difference is manifest. Afghans were giddy and jubilant, while Iraqis now are typically sullen and distrustful -- and thirsty.

"And that's our biggest long-term problem. For all the talk about our forces being short of armored divisions, or our supply lines being stretched so taut that marines were down to one meal a day, those are tactical issues that will be forgotten six months from now. The fundamental and strategic challenge is that so far many ordinary Iraqis regard us, as best I can tell, as conquerors rather than liberators."

One Iraqi tells him:  ''Money was O.K. under Saddam.  'Freedom was not so good. As a people, we were doing O.K. before the invasion. But the war upsets our lives. It brings destruction.''

Greg Mitchell’s new edition of So Wrong for So Long includes a preface by Bruce Springsteen, a new introduction and a lengthy afterword with updates right up to Bradley Manning’s hearing last month.   

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