REPORT FROM BAGHDAD….Salam Pax writes today about a press conference held by Iraq’s “new one-month-president”:

The press guy, at the request of the conference, was telling journalists that the instantaneous translation thingy has two channels; channel one for Arabic, channel two for English. I would like to add another channel: channel three for the truth. It keeps repeating one phrase: “We have no power, we have to get it approved by the Americans, we are puppets and the strings are too tight.” I feel sorry for the guys on the council, some of them are actually very good and honest people and they have been put in a very difficult situation.

Getting into the press conference was a trial itself, he says, since “as an Iraqi I get treated like shit.” On his blog, he expands on the problems Iraqi reporters face:

G. my friend got beaten up by US Army last night, he was handcuffed and had a bag put on his head. he was kicked several times and was made to lie on his face for a while. All he wanted to do was to take pictures and report on an attack, he works for the New York Times as a translator and fixer. He got more kicks for speaking english.
his sin: he looks Iraqi and has a beard.
story will be told, I need to get him drunk enough to get the whole thing out of him he doesn’t want to talk.

Since the U.S. Army is currently fighting a guerrilla war against Iraqis, it’s easy to understand why they are extra cautious around them. But it’s a Catch-22, isn’t it? By responding this way, we’re also losing the support of even moderate Iraqis who are otherwise glad we’re there, and eventually it becomes a vicious downward spiral that’s impossible to stop.

It’s maddening to hear this stuff. I sure wish I had more faith that the administration really had a workable plan for all this. Unfortunately, I don’t know which pill to swallow to give me that faith.

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