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"Getting Better" in Iraq

“The situation is improving on a daily basis inside Iraq. People are freer, the security situation is getting better, the infrastructure is getting better, the schools are opening, the hospitals are being modernized.”

George W. Bush, Oct. 6

Of course it’s getting better, betterment being official policy. Soon the number of US soldiers killed in post-May 1, liberated, occupied, better Iraq will reach 100. And the security situation will be better then than it was when the ninetieth soldier was killed. And it will be better for all involved by Christmas.

The security situation, to just cite one example, is improving in Huwaijah, fifty miles north-east of Baghdad. U.S. troops, according to Agence France-Presse, withdrew from the town October 9 “due to repeated guerrilla attacks” and the “increasing exasperation of the local population” about the detention of 1000 local inhabitants by U.S. forces. Now the U.S. troops are more secure, and so are the Huwaijah residents. Things are getting better in the Sunni Triangle.

Meanwhile among the Shiites, who have better relations with the occupiers than the Sunnis, are getting better and better at organizing themselves and securing their neighborhoods in Baghdad against foreign intrusion. Overextended, demoralized occupying troops are being forced out of some areas because the local folks’ ability to express their rage improves over time.

Bush, however he might hide his head in the sand, surely knows the Beatles’ tune “Getting Better,” from the Sgt. Pepper’s album.

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (better)
A little better all the time (it can’t get no worse)
I have to admit it’s getting better (better)
It’s getting better since [Iraq’s] been mine

Getting so much better all the time
It’s getting better all the time (better, better, better)
It’s getting better all the time (better, better, better)

But maybe he’s doing a little reconsideration, and feeling poorly served by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.

Man I was mean, but I’m changing my scene, and
[with Condi and her Iraq Stabilization Group taking over responsibility for the Iraq fiasco] I’m doing the best that I can.

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (better)
A little better all the time (it can’t get no worse)
I have to admit it’s getting better (better)
It’s getting better since you’ve been mine

Investment economists, who are not at all optimistic about Iraq, have a term, “delusional optimism.” It is a serious psychological problem that can ruin people’s lives. It may be relevant here.

GARY LEUPP is a professor of History at Tufts University and coordinator of the Asian Studies Program.

He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

 

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Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

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