October 04, 2004

Critique is disloyalty! 

The caller started yelling. He couldn't believe our guest had called American troops "idiots" and "stupid." His phone begin to distort as his rage increased in volume. Hate to do it, but I hit the drop button before he could burst a vein on the air. Our interview with Jon Lee Anderson, staff writer for The New Yorker, about his book The Fall of Baghdad, covered a lot of ground. He had not said anything remotely like what the caller loudly claimed. He had observed that the American soldiers he interviewed outside of Fallujah didn't know about the history there, how in 1920 Iraqis rose up against the British occupation, a story held with great pride by most Iraqis today. Mostly he criticised the war planners in Washington, who were so surprised and unprepared for Iraqis' resentment and resistence to American occupation. The issue under discussion was wisdom in Washington, not the intelligence of American troops. Or is that off the table? Any critique of war planners is disloyalty to the troops? Sounds like life in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, not the United States. If we hope to establish a healthier political culture in the post-Saddam Iraq, we'd better set a better example ourselves.

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