Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Newsweek's Nordland sounds off
This may come as old news to others, but I haven't seen anyone cite this amazing Live Talk online Q&A with Rod Nordland, which he did from Baghdad on Feb. 2. The full online chat goes six pages, but I've done some editing to try to bring you the highlights. I've also tried to organize these bits according to their level of seriousness, but I admit the line can often be quite fuzzy.
At the end of the exchange, Nordland thanks readers for their questions, saying "I have tried to answer them in the spirit they seem to have been offered." You be the judge.
A few of the more serious questions and responses:
Dallas, TX: The pictures of voting Sunday in Iraq and the incredible turnout demonstrate the determined will of a courageous people. Even if President Bush was wrong in invading Iraq, doesn't the result make it all worth while?
Rod Nordland: It was indeed a very heartening occasion. Still, Bush didn't invade the country to bring it democracy. By that reasoning, we should also invade Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, etc., none of which have anything even remotely resembling democracy. No WMD, remember, which was one reason, and no al Qaeda, the other reason—until after we invaded. And Iraq now is the biggest producer of terrorists in the world, which it wasn't before.
Fort Sam- Houston, TX: Why should we not pull U.S. forces out of Iraq now?
Rod Nordland: Aside from issues like American prestige, projection of power, protection of oil producing areas, and so forth, the more practical and pressing consideration is that if U.S. troops left precipitously, the very poorly trained and ill-equipped Iraqi security forces would crumble in the face of a determined, fanatic insurgency, and the country would descend into civil war among militias representing various ethnic groups, terrorists, and former Baathists. It'd be a bloodbath, and we would be responsible for it.
Richmond, CA: Shouldn't the U.S.A. invade Iran next? I think they certainly should.
Rod Nordland: I guess you're in favor of reinstitution the draft and raising an army of another million men in order to handle the extra work. Good luck selling that one to your fellow Americans.
Tacoma, WA: Did Saddam run for office?
Rod Nordland: No, he assassinated his way to power.
Hartford, CT: If the world were ruled by "Muslim law," what would it look like???
Rod Nordland: You mean by Islamic law? There are many different versions of that, depending on the society, the culture, the sect of Islam, and it's a bit unfair to generalize. But I suppose one quick answer is it would be as unattractive as, say, a world ruled by fundamentalist Christian law.
Mukilteo, WA: What percentage of eligible voters did in reality vote?
Rod Nordland: A lot more than vote in most U.S. elections.
Portland, OR: When will we have a free election in the USA to get rid of the chief insurgent and terrorist George W. Bush? The phony election under U.S. occupation led by George W. Bush is meaningless until Bush is brought to justice for his crimes and treason against the American people. The illegitimate puppet election of Bush is a joke!!! When will the atrocities of killing and violence led by Bush be brought to a halt?
Rod Nordland: I guess you've never really seen a puppet election before, like the charades Saddam used to have, or the communists held regularly. You can find lots of faults with the US electoral process, but the really serious fault lies with the voters and the wisdom (or lack of it) of their choices.
Boise, ID: With all of the blunders in tactics and with the shame of Abu-Ghraib on all Americans, why is Donald Rumsfeld still the Secretary of Defense??
Rod Nordland: Because a majority of American voters re-elected his boss.
Kennesaw, GA: Did Ayatollah Ali Sistani vote?
Rod Nordland: Good question. I don't know. But as he made it a religious obligation to do so, I would expect that he did. On the other hand, he rarely goes out of his little house in Najaf. I'm actually going to check and find out, and I hope you'll read it in the magazine next week.
(Ed. Note: See his very interesting article on Sistani, and follow-up to that question, in the Feb. 14 edition of Newsweek.)
Havre de Grace, MD: Do you consider it a democratic election where an occupying force including armored vehicles are dictating the election circumstances and an occupying force decided who is eligible to vote. Shades of Hitler! He was also duly elected!
Rod Nordland: So you would prefer to have seen U.S. forces withdraw and let the voters be slaughtered at the polls by a resistance that vowed to kill anyone who voted, and not just them but their children as well? It wasn't a perfect election, but when was the last time you had to risk your life to vote?
Lincoln, RI: The United States spent billions trying to establish democracy in the foreign culture of South Vietnam. What makes us so optimistic that we can do it in the Middle East where none exist now except in Israel?
Rod Nordland: Who's optimistic?
Now for some, er, shall we say, more direct questions and answers:
Hopatcong, NJ: Do you, Masland and Dickey mean "F---ing Murderers" when you say "insurgents" and "fighters" in your STUPIDITY? I've grown sick and tired of you "politically incorrect" reporters. Why don't you have the gumption to call a spade a spade?
Rod Nordland: OK, you're an idiot. How's that?
Bucharest, Romania: Hi! Do you really think that democracy is the best thing for Iraq? I mean it's obviously the best thing for some countries (like the U.S.), but is it the best thing for others? Maybe democracy and voting just doesn't fit them, just as royalty for example wouldn't fit U.S. And is that what democracy is all about: who isn't like us is against us, therefore we should try to impose democracy everywhere (by force!)?
Rod Nordland: We're going to invade Romania next, so just watch out. Belarus, they really need invasion. Moldavia, Central African Republic. So many dictatorships, so little time!
London, England: Divide and rule is what the simpleton Americans use to control other weaker nations. What a pathetic, bullying, ruthless, cowardly lot you are!
Rod Nordland: E tu madre.
Santa Fe, NM: Why aren't American leaders subjected to war crimes?
Rod Nordland: Probably the Secret Service would try to stop that.
Hellowell, ME: why does Bush care so much about what happens in Iraq when there are so many poor, sick, poverty-stricken people in the U.S.?
Rod Nordland: Who said he cares?
Grand Rapids, MI: If WMDs don't exist in Iraq, where are the destroyed ones?
Rod Nordland: I think they're in Atlantis.
Harwich, MA: Saddam Hussein has been deposed, no WMD's have been found, the elections are taking place, and the U.S. military is losing lives, ground, and legitimacy daily. WHAT/WHEN IS OUR EXIT STRATEGY? Do we even have one?
Rod Nordland: It's very simple: last one out, please turn on the lights.
Posted by David at 7:20 PM