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June 14, 2008

The Fix Is In

Economist Lute

With the Iraqis working hard to resist a long-term U.S. occupation agreement, this week’s Economist cover executes the latest version of “Mission Accomplished,” reframing a potential American repudiation as the result of a country that — through a new and profound capacity for self-healing — might somehow not need our fixing anymore. 

Forget that splits among Shiite factions are so severe as to continue threatening civil war, or that the delicate counterbalance between traditional Sunni factions and the Sunni Awakening groups created by the Americans is wearing thin in the face of upcoming elections, or that the country continues to move farther into the Iranian sphere.

With a small generator (drawing power for how many hours a day?) and a bit of varnish (also, the preferred palliative of the Administration), the initiative of the tradesman is meant to signify that Iraq is well on the way to making its own music once again.  And then, I’m not sure how far The Economist meant to push the metaphor, but considering how America’s “rescue” of Iraq mostly succeeded in setting off wide-scale looting, isn’t it poetic that this craftsman is fashioning a lute?

The change in Iraq: Is it turning the corner? (Economist cover story)

Maliki raises possibility that Iraq might ask U.S. to leave (McClatchy)

(image: unattributed. The Economist. June 14, 2008)

  • Mike

    It’s just like the conservatives to show someone in the third world luting, and call it a success.

  • g

    I do love the image of the man working on the oud, because it tells us that Iraqis are people just like us. The fact that he’s wearing plastic sandals and a plaid shirt, and his concentration on his work is very human. And he’s working on a musical instrument, which is a peaceful thing. The tragedy of Iraq is that people like this man keep on trying to normalize their lives, with so many challenges. And I don’t think that what the US is doing there is helping. This gentle man repairing an oud may someday be stopped at a checkpoint and through misunderstanding be killed by a US soldier. how fucked up is that?

  • deb

    He looks disturbingly “western”. Just like my dad in his barn, workin’ on a wagon wheel. If the man wore a white robe and was out digging a ditch, we just wouldn’t connect like this comfortable image!

  • martin

    Sock and ore..A normally responsive CIA site produces no figures as to the current . Incidentally, via what is touted as the worlds’ greatest site of search. Maybe others are rite; during the self claimed rites of conflict: wharr..You cannot trust the people you would normally defer too! Even for a lyical interpretation!
    Have a look and see whether produces differring results. Ask elected presidents what results they are achieving: as a follow up question.
    And finally ask them whether that is a generator in the corner of my picture: or am I just unpleased to see you? How many years down the chord….

  • martin

    I am tired and sick of being edited on The Bag. Can someone from the site advise as to why this has become a particular place where comments are adjusted? Placed out of context and reduced of meaning. If this is a thaipad ruling, fine. Other than that, why now…?
    I have a feeling that I am not the only contributor who wants to know why comments are basically being censored[email protected]>
    This is the only forum I have ever contributed to: for five years. Delete me. Fine. Do not selectively aprobate

  • mona

    I agree with “g”; it is a heartening image and the richness of the oud is beautiful. There is a well known Arabic aphorism: “Egypt writes, Lebanon publishes and Iraq reads”! A lovely father’s day to you Michael!

  • Jan Kees

    The administration’s motive has always been, at least on a conscious level, to “help” Iraq and Iraqis. To speak of the “War against Iraq” sounds as unpatriotic as the “War against Vietnam,” though it was patriotic to speak of the “War against Germany.” The reality, as we knew at the beginning and the whole world knows now, is that such talk of helping (e.g. helping rid a nation of someone who “gassed his own people”) was a mask for darker motives, unspoken, hidden, never explicit, as if there were some deep shame about them — Oil? Be a surrogate for the most right-wing Israelis? Continued survival of the military-industrial-technical complex? Distraction from domestic social and economic issues? Self-aggrandizement of a puerile president playing cowboys and injuns?
    But all along the irony was that any self-respecting democracy that the US helped to create would want to throw the occupiers out. For 5-1/2 years now, our President has executed and our Congress has paid for evil after evil done (always in the name of good) to everyday Iraqis like the one on the Economist’s cover. What unites nearly all political and religious groups now that Maliki has to answer to his voters about any deal he strikes with the US is that they want the occupation to end. They may be willing, as Quakers say, to take the risks of peace rather than those of continued war, which in their case are also the risks of sovereignty, the risks of democracy, and the risks of self-sufficiency and self-determination.
    And so the irony of the picture, as comments have already noted — western garb, focus on work, someone “just like us.” As g pointed out, what if he were wearing scary clothes? But he’s not. For all the intentional selling of fear by government propagandists ever since 9/11, here’s an image of the “other” that has nothing of fear in it, nothing of distrust. Even down to the warm flesh-tones of face and artifact, it shows comfort and confidence.
    So this may be the moment. If Iraqis say “Democracy means we unite, sovereignty means the US leaves, our future demands we work this out ourselves,” they may refuse to sign the pending contract allowing further war-making by the US. If they do, the patina of legitimacy created by the prior contract will disappear. You’d think that would be welcome by our government — we’re finally out of this mess Bush started! — but don’t bank on it. The President’s reasons for starting and perpetuating this war have always been unspoken, unacknowledged, and I wouldn’t expect them to declare “mission accomplished” without the prospect of meeting those dark unstated goals.
    But then, at least, any continuation of the war would clearly be a war against Iraq, not for it. That may be the turning point we are at. I really like this picture.

  • Maria

    The human soul is virtually indestructible, and its ability to rise from the ashes remains as long as the body draws breath. by Alice Miller

  • lytom

    The big headline “Iraq starts to fix itself” is an affront to me.
    I cannot imagine that it can be taken any other way, unless it is intended to be ironic, or plainly condescending, something we can expect from MSM mouthpiece justifying US criminal adventures.
    Life certainly goes on under occupation and war, but to make it appear normal or a some kind of a progress is insulting.

  • scorpion

    The headline, “Iraq starts to fix itself” would be more accurate as, “Iraq will fix itself – once the occupation leaves”. A puppet government holed up in the Green Zone will continue to remain currupt and detatched from the people, and with little effect on society (other than sending out commandos). Surely, the country won’t fix itself overnight, but I doubt there will be much progress under the status quo.
    Regardless, I do like the photograph. It gives a humanized view into Iraqi society to great effect, which is not often visible to Western observers. A view we needed to have seen much more of BEFORE the war and the horrible carnage and destruction it brought to Iraqi people. Perhaps then, the opposition toward the war would have been so vast that the US administration would have thought twice about putting it into motion. If only mainstream media would have showed images like these back then, instead of images of the latest military equipment to be employed.

  • Daniel Humphries

    I also immediately saw the headline “Iraq starts to fix itself” as innuendo implying that the problem up to this point has been a lack of fix-it-ness on the part of the Iraqis. The very down-home Americanishnes of his plaid shirt seems to reinforce this.
    Subtext: Iraqis become more like Americans, buckle down with elbow grease, all is solved. You see, it was their fault all along!

  • Helen

    The rift in the lute? (Yes, I do know it’s really an oud!)

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