politics, world

Every Nation is an Illusion

Emiliag (ASA)An ornate white sign with the single word, \

A Bolivian province, Santa Cruz, held a referendum over the weekend. Unsurprisingly, voters in the oil-rich area supported greater autonomy–and keeping a greater portion of their oil revenue–from the central government. At least a few comments on the topic centered on the fact that Bolivia is an imagined community to which citizens feel only a weak allegiance. I, as you can see, felt compelled to say something about the topic.

It’s pretty had to argue against the fact that every nation is an illusion. The community of “Americans” is only as real as your belief in it. So too as the community of “the French,” “the Algerians,” “the Saudis,” “the Japanese,” or “the Mexicans.” It’s often forgotten that the history of “civilization” has been dedicated, with varying rapidity and skill, to creating cohesive nation-states. Slowly kingdoms sought to forge a coherent identity for their subject, and a sense of loyalty to far-away rulers that would otherwise be seen as strangers.

It’s not hard to understand that tribes are a simplified form of the modern nation state. One can easily imagine a group of 12 people getting together and deciding they’ll band together to assure for their mutual security and future. The nation-state is essentially this process writ large, and sometimes without the decision being agreed to by all parties.

Before France became a country with defined borders and a set identity, there were no French people. There were Parisians, Normans, Provencals, and Corsicans (to name only a few). It was an intentional project and to press upon them their identity not as regional or tribal, but national. Language is a powerful way to do this. All French speakers can, by virtue of sharing a language, see themselves as a coherent national community. Another popular way to forge national identity is war. Starting a conflict between two recently conceived nations is an easy way to consolidate their identities.

The United States prides itself on being unique in the nature of its illusion. We love to assert that we’re special because no Americans–with the exceptions of the Amerindians we willfully forget–have historical claim to this land. We don’t look the same, often don’t speak the same, and yet we’re all American. “The Great American Melting Pot,” is the School House Rock lyrics that leaps to mind.

We’re taught from grade school that regardless of our ethnic, racial, or personal history we’re Americans because we believe in and belong to the community of Americans. We’re part of “the people” because we chose to be, even if decades and generations ago.

And though this is an obvious statement that “Americans” are truly an illusory, imaginary group, we tend to forget it. To forget that French people weren’t always French. That Pakistanis weren’t Pakistanis until 60 years ago. That Bangladeshis weren’t Banglideshis until 50 years ago. That Eritrians weren’t Eritrians until 15 years ago.

By some estimates, it’s taken 5000 years to create the set of nations we know today. And the map still changes. Kosovo became a country not six months ago. All of these nations are illusions, based on historical flukes, choices, and random chance. And I, for one, hope that we never lose touch with how arbitrary these division are.

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politics, world

How To Steal an Election

There have been a number of recent attempt to steal elections. Of course not all have succeed, and probably, not all have been known. Though I don’t have much advice about how to keep your fixing from being known, I have some ideas about how you can succeed despite it being known.

First, there are some initial conditions that are very helpful in making rigging possible. They include:

  • A corrupt bureaucracy to help with the fixing. Without at least a small force dedicated to the autocrat, he or she has almost no hope of meaningfully changing the elections results. There must be a secretive and relatively powerful force, traditionally the army, who is willing to help. It is for this reason that incumbents are usually much more able to rig an election than outside candidates.
  • A world unwilling or unable to intervene on behalf of justice. Fortunately, the default mode of the international community today is non-intervention. Unless or until your rigging has resulted in the deaths of over 500 people, the rest of the world is unlikely to be terribly concerned that you’ve rigged an election. Even if your rigging results in the death of that number, mediation is much more likely than any movement of force. As such, you can expect to keep at least a little personal peace and security even if you’ve been a thoroughgoing tyrant.
  • A pacified public. This isn’t completely necessary, but that it helps can not be doubted. There are generally two way to pacify the public in your country, love or fear. Perhaps the best way to pacify though, is a little of both. That’s secret has been working solidly for Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party for years.

Now we should note that there’s more than one way to steal an election. Simply changing the results in counting can if few enough people notice. For our purposes, as was the case recently in Zimbabwe, we’ll assume that the opposition has some legitimate claim to victory.

  1. Do everything in your power to delay the announcement of final results. If you’ve not released the results a few days after the election, consider claiming that there were irregularities that merit recounting. Though the opposition may claim to know the results, make sure that you don’t let anyone in the government either agree or disagree with them. This allows you to demand a run-off or a re-vote.
  2. It’ll help to use some coercion. If the election didn’t go your way, be sure to rough up at least a few people who are responsible for this. It’s best to make sure that you can’t be directly linked to the violence, but that everyone understands that you’re responsible. This could be especially useful in turning the tide if you succeed in getting a run-off.
  3. Be sure it’s not to outrage the world that prefers to be uninvolved. They’ll probably do their best to look responsible to those concerned in their home country, but will be very reluctant to intervene. Be aware that if your violence–or other coercion methods–become too well known they may be forced to intervene. This is bad for you and uncomfortable for them.
  4. It’ll help, too, if those who might intervene fear that you’ll create greater instability if you lose. If they see you as dangerous or unstable, they’re much more likely to fear you and let you remain in power, however disastrous this is for your country or its citizens.
  5. Once the world makes clear it’s intention to look away, (re)inaugurate yourself. They’ll forget soon enough and you’ll be free to rule for however long you claim you need. Tyranny will have triumphed again.
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politics, world

The Protester’s Imperative

prakharA picture of pro-Tibet protesters in Paris

Be heard, provoke consideration, but never–never–be perceived as impetuous. The second the public at large sees you are a bigger problem than the problem you’re protesting about, you’ve lost.

These thoughts of mine were provoked in no small part because of the amount of coverage that recent protests along the path of the Olympic torch relay have provoked. Thus far, I’d say that protesters have done an admirable job of making their concerns heard without becoming the story, but they’re treading perilously close to that line.

Obviously, it can be hard to judge when you’ll become seen as a pest and not earnest citizens with a legitimate grievance. There are some people who see even the most minor protest as too big a bother and will, consequently, do their best to handicap the cause for which the protesters demonstrate.

It’s hard to judge exactly what’s accepted by the majority of people and what’s not. Surely, to the average American, “terrorism” is not a legitimate form of protest. If there’s one lesson from the late sixties and the early seventies, it’s that violent protest doesn’t work. Fights scare off the luke-warm and the merely curious, armed clashes and explosive used against Americans will mean you’ve completely lost the public argument.

Surely in some cases and in some circles, by some people, terrorism is considered acceptable. Al Quaeda is not completely without supporters who see their action as a justified means of protest and self-defense. Surely the violence of the IRA was accepted in at least some of the Catholic areas of Northern Ireland. So to was the terrorism of John Brown accepted, even fêted in some parts of America before the civil war.

Without a doubt, audience matters. Protesters who violate the sensibilities of their intended audience do a great disservice to their cause by acting dishonorably. Almost without question, black empowerment became less popular in America when the protests organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. gave way the militancy and violence of Black Panthers and other groups. By showing that their hand included guns and a openness to “any means necessary,” they scared off many luke-warm supporters. The militancy of those and other 1970s protesters is widely recognized as the cause for the conservative resurgence of the last quarter of the twentieth century.

Surely it’s no minor tragedy that China has a history of intransigence on the crisis in Darfur. Surely it’s no minor tragedy that China still refuses to acknowledge the role of the Dalai Lama as the representative of the Tibetan people. Surely it’s no minor tragedy that the Chinese have been one of the most crucial supporters of the military junta controlling Burma.

But it’s not out of the question that outrage about beligerent protesters could overwhelm people’s outrage about such tragedies. And if the continued irritation of extinguishers of the Olympic flame becomes the story rather than the tragedies for which they seek attention, I think that would be the biggest tragedy of all.

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world

Prosperity, Then Peace

Tracy O (ASA)money money money

I recently wrote about how globalization could make the world a much safer place. The logic is essentially this: countries that have significant business interactions are much less likely to go to war. A China that relies on exports to the West probably won’t start a war with anyone, and a West that relies on imports from China is less likely to go to war with them. If you extend this logic to a world in which each country relies on imports and exports to and from everywhere else, a completely “globalized” world seems destined for peace.

In explaining that theory, I drew on the (easy) example of Europe. The logic is straightforward: trade liberalization under the auspices of the European Union has made Europe more interconnected. That interconnections has made war all but impossible. After publishing, a very interesting and reasonable counter-argument came to mind: the prosperity of Europe, not it’s liberalization, has kept it at peace.

Consider, for example, that almost all the violence in Europe to have occurred in the last few decades happened in the relatively poor Balkans. Consider too, that Africa–a continent almost synonymous with war–is easily the poorest inhabited continent on the planet.

Now I’m not that interested in listing hundreds of examples. I’m well aware that for every example I can give there are probably an equal number of  counterexamples.

The mechanism by which prosperity would yield peace is more intuitive than rational. The basic idea would be that the wealthier a person is, the more social capital–education, acquaintances, leisure time–they have, and the more resistant they are to putting a nice life on hold to risk their own neck in war. This makes sense, but without some actual data remains “just a theory.”

However, it follows that if this worked, generally speaking, to turn a populous against war a responsive government would almost necessarily be less likely to wage war. Even a government deaf to the desires of its citizens would likely struggle to conscript people to join an undesired military action.

Certainly the theory has flaws. Rich countries do start wars. There are poor countries that are peaceful. But I can’t and wouldn’t contend that prosperity alone makes a country or population less likely to go to war. I would say, however, that it’s a factor that shouldn’t be ignored if one desires to end all wars.

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politics, world

How I Forgot Iraq

soldiersmediacenterSunset in Iraq

There’s been a lot of talk recently–especially among America’s chattering left–about how dire it is that Americans have forgotten about Iraq. Today being the five year anniversary of the invasion, what better day is there tackle the issue? I, one who listens quite often to the chattering left, have forgotten about Iraq. I’m wondering how anyone can not have forgotten Iraq.

To be clear, I’ve not forgotten about the country. I’ve not forgotten about what an debacle the after-invasion rebuilding effort was. I’ve not forgotten how incorrect the majority of commentators were about the necessity of going to war there. But I have stopped thinking about it.

The news of another bombing and of more American casualities no longer strikes as a tragedy or even unusual. It sounds like the same old news. And whether 4 or 40 or 400 died today if will surely fail to register with any of the needed depth.

I have come to accept the death of four of five Americans a week–and at least ten times as many Iraqis–as par for the course. This is not to say that I think the president was right or is right; he’s foolish if he really thinks that serving in Iraq is exhilarating more than it is terrifying.

But as galling as that recent statement was, as galling as a death of any single person is, there’s only so much worry or anger I can contain. Josef Stalin’s often credited with the phrase “One death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic.” Similarly, during the Great Depression Harry Hopkins noted that “You can pity six men, but you can’t keep stirred up over six million.”

It’s a sad but true fact that my suffering causes me great pain and heartache. And at times where the suffering of others is made most plain to me, I can sometimes feel the same about their suffering. But the suffering those soldiers and civilians, injured, dead, or mourning, is not something I spend a great deal of time worrying about. Nor do I manage to worry enough about the mental welfare of troop constantly redeployed at heretofore unheard of frequency. The constant and apparently mild scale of tragedy is more than the average citizen can (or wants to) regularly worry about.

I have no doubt that hundreds if not thousands of people suffer anew every week that the simmering conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue. I have no doubt that many of those suffering are Americans like me. It’s a tragedy that they have to suffer for the war there.

And though Iraqis and Afghans clearly suffered under the tyrannical regimes in their recent past, that doesn’t do much to diminish the suffering they’re now experiencing during the turbulent struggle for their countries. It’s a tragedy that this conflict, however terrible it’s predecessor, hasn’t been resolved by now.

But it’s not the kind of tragedy that has made me–until I sat down to write this–pay attention. It’s that miss-able kind that I don’t see and don’t hear and don’t remember. And so I, like much of the population, forget and ignore the terrible cost to this country and its citizens of this war. I, like much of the population, don’t worry nearly enough about the cost to civilians on the ground of this war. Of any war.

It’s an ugly truth that within days of publishing this with a heavy heart about the suffering I’ve so frequently ignored, I will again have pushed the suffering in Iraq, and engendered by the events in Iraq, out of my mind. I’ve certainly done it before. Though I agree that it’s a tragedy, I simply don’t have the power or will to constantly remember and despair at the ugly cost of war. That’s ugly, but it’s true.

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world

Globalization as Entanglement

JohnLeGear (ASA)Globes in Chicago

Globalization has bad rap. Some of it is, no doubt, deserved. The practice is great at giving us (in the “rich world”) poorly made plastic doodads that we don’t need, but at prices we can’t resist. By doing so it’s probably increased the amount of raw materials needlessly wasted, and encouraged the desire for similar wastefulness in poorer countries.

It’s also got a well-deserved reputation for low wages and poor safety in country where workers are glad just to be employed. Surely there should be at least some embarrassment among companies that come from the rich world that they’re essentially doing their best to move their manufacturing to places with the least stringent worker-safety regulations they can find.

All of this, and more, are the legitimate problems with globalization as it is currently being implemented. I’m not defending globalization in it’s current incarnation as an overwhelming good. It has not been.

But that does not mean that globalization does no good. Openness to trade and the shrinking barriers between nation-states means that the world is ever more entangled. And an entangled world, the logic goes, is a more peaceful world.

Consider Europe. The two largest wars this world has ever known were started by European countries in the first half of the twentieth century. And yet, here we are at the start of the twenty-first century and Europe–well, most of it–is the most diverse, stable, and peaceful continent in the world.

If you doubt it, consider that Belgium has just recently decided that maybe they should get serious about forming an operational government. Though they had parliamentary elections eight months ago, they’d not managed (or needed) to form a governing coalition. Where being without a government would have seemed dangerous just 100 years ago, today the relatively touchy people of Belgium have seen no economic, military, or health catastrophe that would precipitate a government’s formation.

Surely the devolution of power in Europe’s a great deal more than buying cheap plastic products from each other, but to envision the European Union as much more than trade liberalization writ large is misguided.

Chastened and fearful of the legacy of two world wars and the prospect of another, the free countries of Europe chose to become so economically entangled that war world be, essentially, impossible. Surely there’s more to say than that, but at base it’s what happened.

That’s a nice story, but surely it’s a little foolish to try to extrapolate it to the current world. After all, Europe’s was far more stable fifty years ago than most of the world is today. It was. And surely there are some dangerous people in the world today who could easily end some peaceful tide. There are. And surely there are people who will lose in a vast tide of globalization be they Americans made jobless or Vietnamese subjected to poor factory conditions. There are.

But painting with the broad strokes of history it’s hard to see globalization, and it’s compulsory entanglement, as anything but a good thing. America’s politicians and citizens should remember that more often.

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world

Kosovo and Separatism

Last week, I counted Kosovo’s declaration of independence as a good thing. I still think that, on balance, it was. But I’m increasingly interested and perhaps troubled by how much I didn’t and don’t know about the whole thing.

And sadly, what commentary I’ve seen about it hasn’t really clarified the issue for me. Most visible opponents of Kosovo’s independence seem vaguely allied with Serbia or to have some related ax to grind. It’s often cited that those countries that have most prominently failed to recognize Kosovo’s independence have separatist movements of their own–Spain, Greece, Romania, Slovakia. I’m not swayed by this argument, because none of those have provoked–whether merited or not–outside intervention on behalf of one of the parties.

The basic argument here is made by Serbia’s foreign minister, Vuk Jeremic, in a New York Times Op-Ed, in which he says:

Recognizing the unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia legitimizes the doctrine of imposing solutions to ethnic conflicts. It legitimizes the act of unilateral secession by a provincial or other non-state actor. It transforms the right to self-determination into an avowed right to independence. It legitimizes the forced partition of internationally recognized, sovereign states.

Now aside from the need to discredit any commenter who has a horse in the race he’s covering, there is a legitimate point to be heard here. After all, Serbia had been willing to offer Kosovo nearly complete autonomy if it had remained a province of Belgrade. This, to one not schooled in Kosovo’s grievances, seems like an admirable solution.

And if you believe, as many seem to, that NATO intervention in the Kosovo issue was illegal and illegitimate, it stands to reason that this is indeed a great historical injustice. I have to plead ignorant on the question of whether or not the intervention was legitimate, my interest at the time that it occurred was minimal and my learning since–even after reading the Wikipedia article on the topic–has been limited. And, it seems, no news source I can get my hands on wants to tackle this difficult issue fraught with pitfalls.

The more interesting point, to me, is the question of Slobodan Milosevic. Even Mr. Jeremic admits that what he did was bad, but he makes the interesting claim that punishing the state for it is illegitimate.

A historical injustice is being imposed on a European country that has overcome more obstacles since we democratically overthrew Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000 than most other nations have in a much longer time. Recognizing Kosovo means saying, in effect, that Serbian democracy must be punished because a tyrant — one who committed heinous deeds against the Kosovo Albanians in the 1990s — was left unpunished. Such misplaced revenge may make some feel better, but it will make the international system feel much worse.

Again, limited by own ignorance, I can’t really accede to or deny this version of history. And so here I am, unsure. I’m tempted to reach out and blame the news media–or the weak narratives of Wikipedia articles–for my inability to come to meaningful conclusion on the question of Kosovo and separatism. I’m sure that’s unfair.

But I do wish I had some answers instead of all these questions. Maybe the best non-resolution to the issue I’ve seen is offered by Al Eislele, who said, “The tortured history and complex nature of the Serb-Kosovo conflict leaves non-expert observers like me open to criticism.” Perhaps that, then, is the nature of foreign policy.

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politics, world

A Good Week For International Change

IrotzabalFidel Castro

If there are four big pieces of international news this week, it would be hard to make them anything but these. And if there were for big pieces of good international news this week, it would be hard to make them anything but these:

  1. The Kofi Annan-led mediation team seems to be getting close to a real resolution to the months-long violence in Kenya that has left over one thousand dead.
  2. Kosovo, a former province of Serbia under United Nations control for nearly a decade, declared independence. Little–though sadly not none–violence or meaningful disruption followed this long-feared move.
  3. In a largely symbolic but long anticipated move, Fidel Castro has announced that he will officially resign his posts of president and commander-in-chief of Cuba.
  4. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf appear willing and able to accept the results of Monday’s election, preventing the type of chaos that was unleashed in Kenya when Mr. Mbeki refused to accept the legitimate results of the election in his country.

Surely this list isn’t all sunshine and daisies. There’s still a long road toward peace and stability that Kenya must travel before it regains some of the stability and sheen it had less than a year ago. Kosovo still has a large Serbian population in it which will likely continue to cause disruption. That will also be exacerbated by Serbia’s unwilling to accept the legality of the fracture. While Fidel’s Castro role in Cuba’s day-to-day activities has clearly diminished, it’s hard to see Cuba becoming a free and open country while he’s still alive and his brother retains power. Though Pakistan’s begun the transition back to civilian governance, it’s still a mess of country with large ungovernable portions. The legislative future is still far from smooth while the newly-elected parliment is to be checked by a president it doesn’t like but can’t impeach.

Indeed, too, there are large problems in many other places around the world. Civil wars still rage, the rule of law is still a dream in far too many countries, totalitarian leaders still have meaningful influence in far too much of the world.

But seen from a distance–the only way I know how to see international affairs–this has been a good week. Certainly we’d need many good weeks like this to see a meaningful trend toward openness, democracy, and prosperity sweeping over the world. Probably we’d really need something closer to many years like this week for us to reach something like satisfaction about the way the world is now.

But we should be glad for what we’ve gotten this week. Too rarely does so much good news come without a break of the bad, the terrible, or the catastrophic. Though I have no idea what tomorrow will bring these countries and all the others in desperate need of change, I’m thankful for what progress we’ve had so far.

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USA, world

Kenya and International Impotence

DEMOSHMwai Kibaki

The world recently celebrated a rather unceremonious “monthiversary.” Kenya–which up until a month ago was often described as the brightest spot in East Africa, if not the whole continent–is still in chaos. See some of the haunting reports and photographs of The Vigilante Journalist if you doubt that fact.

A month ago Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki (at right), “won” reelection. After this incredibly questionable result was announced, “tribal” violence “erupted.” Estimates are that by now at least 800 have been killed and 300,000 displaced. Though many forces–best known in America are presidential candidate Barack Obama and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan–have attempted to reach some accord between President Kibaki and the oppositions leader Raila Odinga, none have succeeded, or even produced much externally-visible progress.

If one pairs this sad story with the continued mess of Darfur, you’ve got a good base for a pessimistic soup which proves that the international community is unable or unwilling to help create lasting peace on the continent. Even worse, you could find proof that Africans themselves are incapable of living in peace.

But I wouldn’t say that. Nor would I interject the ever-growing messes of Somalia, Zimbabwe, and the ever-simmering border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea as proof that East Africa’s the bad side of the continent. Or that nothing can change.

We could reasonably say that all of this makes a strong case for a reconsideration of priorities at the United Nations and other international bodies. That it also shows signs that Africa’s still growing and maturing, and though it may sound (or even be) patronizing, the current problems on the continent are necessary growing pains for young nation states with limited resources.

Before that though, I must admit something. On nearly every topic I’ve written about thus far and will write about through the rest of this piece I know enough to appear–to most–to know what I’m talking about but not enough to actually know what I’m talking about. It’s an admittedly dangerous fact that means I should probably be barred from talking about it at all. Alas, I’m not.

And so I can tell you that though we could make this to look like a strong case for the United States to disengage from the impotent United Nations, it’s not. And that I remain hopeful that though progress in Africa and elsewhere is slow and all UN actions are encumbered by the veto power of self-serving states like China, Russia, and the United States I think the organization shows progress.

Surely the Bush presidency and the farce that was made of international law in invading Iraq was bad. Surely it is troubling that both Russia and China are willing and able to stand up against even the most well-intended efforts to intervene for human rights.

But in the broad stroke of history, progress is unquestionably toward greater openness, greater rule of law, and greater democracy. Surely there are a number of painful steps left–many ugly and troubling steps–before the world arrives at the place I’d like it to be. But as long as and as strong as I can, I’ll hope that someday soon the world will be more like the hope for Kenya from last December, and less like the pessimism engendered by the Kenya of this January.

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big ideas, OPW, world

OPW: Finding Commonality Inside Iraq

Earlier this week I encountered a pretty interesting piece in the New York Review of Books. Entitled “As Iraqis See It,” the piece gives an inside look into the lives of Iraqis working for the McClatchy news organization, one of America’s biggest. McClatchy provides these reporters with a blog, called Inside Iraq, which is where most of the stories in the piece originate. One of the most striking passages was this:

While courteous, the men look right through her. One of the Americans begins searching the living room. In it is a large bookcase filled with books in English. “You read a lot Ma’am?” he asks. “Yes, in fact I do,” she replies, using English for the first time. “What’s this?” he says. “Heinlein? Asimov? Grisham?”

He turns to look at me again, this time with a different expression in his eyes. “Do you have a weapon?” “Yes, of course. It’s in that cabinet.”

He opens the cabinet and looks closely inside.

“You play Diablo?! And what’s this?! Grand Theft Auto??” He forgets all about the weapon and turns to us with a wide grin on his face, and astonishment in his eyes. My son asks him, “Is ours the first house you search?”, “No, why?”, “Because all my friends have these games, why are you so surprised?” The serviceman looks embarrassed, and turns to inspect the weapon.

They went through every room, every cabinet, closet and drawer silently. After they accomplished their mission, in about thirty minutes, they walked out, gray shadows in the twilight.

With its quiet exploration of the subtle interplay between occupier and occupied, the vignette reminded me of Orwell’s writings about his imperial service in Burma. Interested in learning more, I reached Sahar via phone at McClatchy’s Baghdad office. She told me that when the American soldier discovered Grisham and Asimov on her bookshelf, “He was totally amazed. When he looked at me, he didn’t see an Iraqi woman in a hijab, he saw a human being. You can’t imagine the look on his face—there were tears in his eyes. He was inside a house, with love, a family, like anywhere else.”

The incident, Sahar said, gave her a sense of the extent to which the Iraqi people are unknown. “People in America look at pictures of Afghanistan and think Iraq is the same,” she said. “They think Iraqis are people who are uneducated, who are Bedouins living in tents, tending camels and sheep.” Until the plague of wars began devouring the country, she went on, Iraq was the leading nation in the region, with a highly educated people boasting the best doctors, teachers, and engineers. Americans, Sahar sighed, “don’t know this. And when you don’t know a person, you can’t feel for them, can you?”

She continued: “How many have been killed in Iraq? Bordering on a million. If you realize that these are real people with real feelings who are being killed—that they are fathers and husbands, teachers and doctors—if these facts could be made known, would people be so brutalized? It’s our job as Iraqi journalists to show that Iraqis are real people. This is what we try to advance through the blog.”

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