Tuesday, April 29, 2003

# Posted 10:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

"IRAQI PARALLELS TO THE INTIFADA are now complete," according to Kos. Foolish as that statment sounds, I have to admit that I immediately thought of the West Bank and Gaza when reading about the death of a dozen or more civilians during a protest march in Iraq that ended in a firefight between US forces and Sunni gunmen.

Coverage of the incident had all the hallmarks of dispatches from the West Bank and Gaza. The soldiers tell a plausible story but cannot verify it. Friends and relatives of the victims tell a slightly less plausible story interspersed with absurd anti-American remarks), but one that will immediately be believed by those looking for an excuse to resent the occupation forces.

But for the moment, it's important to keep things in perspective. One tragic incident does not an intifada make. Moreover, there are encouraging signs of US-Iraqi cooperation.

But what I would really like to see is a thorough investigation of the shooting at Fallujah. What makes similar incidents in Palestinian areas so maddening is that one hears the same story from both sides over and over again without ever finding out who was right and who was wrong. Now, I generally believe what the Israelis have to say about such incidents, given that Israelihas a powerful opposition press as well as impressive human rights organizations, whereas as the PA has neither. But such arguments tend not to persuade the skeptics.

What the US military needs to do is establish a relationship with the Iraqi public based on total candor. Hatred makes that sort of relationship impossible in the West Bank and Gaza. But the interest of Iraq and the United States are similar enough to make honesty work. While neither the Bush administration nor the US military has a great record on this sort of thing, I think that fear of another intifada may be enough to give the upper hand to common sense.
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