Monday, July 10, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Scott From Oregon

Lighting Candles For Fay

Lighting Candles For Fay, Photo - 2006 by MG

Generally, I In T View bloggers, journalists, writers, human rights advocates, and soldiers, but this time I thought I would expand the horizons a bit and In T View the readers of of one of the most popular and beloved Mideast and Iraqi blogs, Iraq The Model, and let them sound off, share their views, about ITM and Iraq.

Iraq The Model comes complete with a strong and loyal readership and a feisty crew of articulate commenters offering their thoughts on Omar's and Mohammed's evaluation of events in their country, the Iraqi conflict, politics, terrorism, Islam, and the actions of the Coalition Forces.

In this In T View, we feature Scott from Oregon, a carpenter from the Beaver State, who has lived
in the Middle East and traveled extensively. Scott, commenting at ITM provides a Liberal viewpoint to the often conservative flow of conversation. Ever opinionated, Scott can be found at the Aelope blog. Take it away, Scott from Oregon...

MG: Hi Scott, how did you become aware of Iraq The Model and decide to comment there?

Scott: My girlfrind gave me her old computer and taught me how to type in ctrl/alt/Delete. I was working on a construction project by myself, and she thought it would be a good way to kill some time. I was learning google news when I saw a story about Riverbend. I wrote her an e-mail (this was all so new and exciting!) and signed it Scott(from Oregon), thinking it would be cool if she knew I was from way far away. I was messing around at night following link after link, and found Zeyad and ITM right at the beginning. I got in the habit of checking in every morning with coffee, once right after work, and sometimes late in the evenings since I didn't have TV.

MG: Are you as optimistic about Iraq now, as when you first started reading and commenting at ITM?

Scott: I was NOT optimistic when I first started reading ITM. I started reading intensely in order to make that moral judgement with some semblance of jurisprudence. You could say I had a suspended judgement, awaiting further evidence. As a human being, I tend to be against such things as dropping bombs on people, running tanks through women's laundry, taking control of a pre-existing societal structure by force and trying to make it fit into your particular cultural preconditioning. That said, I came to agree with the original premise of removing Saddam (since no other "program" with a reasonable expectation of success was forthcoming--one guy's genuise plan was to put a bullet in Saddam's head and run like crazy), though I was dumbfounded and perplexed at how it was presented and sold to the American people by our current administration.

MG: Did you find that ITM was better when Ali was involved with the blog?

Scott: That's an odd subjective question that is difficult to answer. I'd say a little better, only in the sense that three good writers are contributing instead of just two. Mostly, I've often felt bad that a rift occured between the brothers-- family being so important in times of duress. I just hope that in real life, Ali is still on Mo and Omar's blogroll and gets hits in the biceps (as brother's do) out of love and a history of familial love...

MG: There have been criticisms directed towards ITM and the brothers that they are too Pro-American or American Agents, Working for the CIA, not really Iraqis or located in Iraq, etc. How do you respond to this?

Scott: The CIA? Pro-American Agents? Perhaps in the sense that they are optimistically trying to achieve the same success that "American-Agents" are, yes, they are working in parallel with nefarious, US conspiratorial, black ops, evil secret agent man dudes... They just want what we all want. A little peace. A little love. Some tenderness... How can anyone fault them for wanting an environment that uses consensus and not bombs and bullets to achieve such rudimentary modern services such as sewage treatment and garbage collection?

MG: Has it been a learning experience reading ITM? You likely know more about Iraqi politics now, than you did before reading the Brothers' Blog, but have they also given you insights into other facets of Iraqi Society such as culture and history?

Scott: That pretty much answers itself, doesn't it? I will say, though, that reading multiple Iraqi blogs has given me a better feel for the over-all mindset of Iraqi's as a people. The one glaring trait that is unsettling is the apparent inability to take complete responsibility for the condition of one's country (regardless of outside influences) and to not scapegoat the hard stuff. "We the People" hasn't quite sunk in, as of yet...

MG: Should the US have involved itself in Iraq? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?

Scott: Yes, but they should not have tried to rearrange Iraqi society ala Japan after WW2. Hindsight and armchair quarterbacking references submitted, I think they (we) should have come in like a big brother and just sat on the heads of the Iraqi elite who were running the show and then offered to get up when a promise to behave was attained (removing Saddam and his cohorts, of course). Then, if they didn't behave, come in and do it again. The onus of Iraqi society should have been put squarely on Iraqi's shoulders early on. Iraqi's should have been allowed to rebuild their own damn country, and not a bunch of 'experts' from abroad.

MG: Does the World Media (Television, Radio, and Newspapers) present an accurate view of what's happening in Iraq?

Scott: No, but that is the nature of news and all recounting of all events (Omar and Mohammed refuse to dwell on the negative--that is their perogative-- but it is still an indicator of another kind of bias.) I've never seen a news "event" ever resemble reality. Ever. Suddenly, it's a problem? Intelligent people take "the news" with a heavy skepticism and separate hyperbole from truth automatically. (One could argue that the Bush administration is even guiltier than "the news" of selective info-spreading, and one would not be wrong.) The news is predominately just retelling simple facts. Twelve bombs, twenty three people... that sort of thing. It is up to the consumer of "the news" to place a value on what that means.

For those who argue that "the news" isn't showing all the "good" things, I ask-- When has "the news" ever done that? Usually one feel-good story per half hour per local news channel. It's been that way since I can remember. I get a kick out of those who find conspiratorial deviancies all of a sudden. It's like they just woke up and discovered what's existed all along. For evidence of this-- I give you the Monika Lewinski scandal. Place a time value on this story verses everything else Clinton did while in office. Different party, same treatment.

As an aside and addition to your question-- it has always been my position that an American in a home on a computer trying to sift through as much reportage and info as possible, still can't get an accurate view of what is actually happening in Iraq, and therefore, cannot make a definitive assessment of what is working and what is not. It is rationally and logically impossible to know relative "truth" unless you are living it from multiple facets, which is impossible for an Iraqi who is there, and beyond impossible for a westerner reading blogs and news reports and governmental dispatches. This makes the passionate certainties of some commenters quite an amusing spectacle to behold...

MG: Which ITM Brother -- Omar or Mohammed -- would you like to give a hug to or have a beer with and why?

Scott: I would hug Mohammed and slur my words with Omar. Actually, I'd do 'em both both ways, but since you made me choose. Mohammed comes across as being more paternal, rational, wise. Omar a bit more passionate (not politically, but personally), so I give the hugs to pops, and go hang with the dude...

MG: On February 20, 1258 A.D., the Mongols overran Baghdad, plundered and destroyed the city, and conducted a massacre of the residents that claimed 800,000 lives. Things don't look as bleak for the Iraqis now, still the topic of an Iraqi Civil War is being bandied about in the Media every day, and I have to ask: Is Iraq currently involved in a Civil War?

Scott: Zeyad said it best. "I've never been in a civil war, but this seems to be like one to me..." (that is a paraphrase from memory). By all accounts, Iraqis are becoming divisive and uncivil. But it seems there has always been this underlying friction well capped by Saddam, who we know picked on the Shia. The US is currently acting the role of the zebra striped referee, trying to keep Tyson and some other galoot from biting each other's ear off. Both fighters are blaming the referee for their angst and not taking on the responsibility themselves. The knuckleheaded Iraqi politicians aren't helping any, either...

MG: Do you have a Favorite Poster at ITM, who you like or admire, and can you tell us why?

Scott: Lee C. would be my favorite at ITM. The place is flooded with an overtly presold crowd of over-cheerers, who think that blind obeisance to an unproven ideal is what "patriotism" and "being an American" is all about. To this end, they are willing to tolerate bigotry, absurd generalities, inaccurate historical "truths" and blindingly obvious errors by our current administration in order to "defeat the enemy" which they can ill-define. Lee C. is willing to enter into this crowd and blow out their torches, one by one. He's not always right, but he is always thoughtful, and holds to logic much tighter than most who post there. Politically, he is also a centrist, which is where I tend to hang my hat. The shanty crowd of naysayers are about as interesting to me as tire tread depths on somebody else's car, so I don't spend much energy reading and refuting that type of chronic negativity. To my first statement, I would add that a willingness to be critical, to dig for 'truth' and analyze as many aspects of a situation is one of America's greatest strengths. A large percentage of ITM posters are willingly disregarding 'truths' to fit a preconcieved notion or uphold a loyalty that clouds reality. And I mean both political extremes.

MG: One of my escapist fantasies is to walk the length and breadth of Iraq from Southern Kurdisitan down to Mosul, though due to my blue eyes and practically albino skin, they'd likely be using me for target practice before I made it out of Mosul, certainly I'd be in trouble in Fallujah LOL... When conditions become safer for travel
in Iraq, would you like to visit the country?

Scott: Not really. And for reasons that have nothing to do with Iraq and this war, or the people or history there. I've spent a huge part of my life traveling, from a child to more than half my adult life. You know the __expression "Nothing new under the sun"? I've gotten to that point. I would lovingly give all Iraqi travelers shelter and sustanance in my home, and I would relish the experience. But no. I'm new-visaged to the gills, if I can mix bad English with worse metaphors.

MG: The Recent Loss of Omar's, Mo's, and Ali's Brother-in-Law elicited many outporings of sympathy from ITM's readers and commenters, similar to if the readers/commenters had lost a member of their own extended family. When you post at ITM, is there a sense of being part of an extended family?
Has a bond been established, both between the posters themselves and Omar and Mo?

Scott: Absolutely. An absurdly dysfunctional one (if you include some of the great kookers that frequent ITM) but absolutely. One of the scary things for me is that dead people and the news of tragic bombings no longer make me cry. The news of Omar and Mo's brother-in-law really hurt, but I've become inured by just reading about the awful events transpiring in Iraq. I imagine what it must be like to be living it.

MG: Having come to know Omar and Mo through their writings these last few years, what is the one thing, you would like to say to them?

Scott: The main thing is that I admire
their optimism and courage. I would reiterate
that until I ran out of printer ink. A few smaller bits of "advice" I would give them, would be as follows...

It is OK to be negative, if you are doing it constructively and honestly. War SHOULD be controversial, and as long as an army is in the field, no matter where in the world or why, we should be beating ourselves in the head with doubt and self-criticism. War is no time for blind obediance and cheerleading. Find a way to open up your comment section to live commenting. Your site used to have an odd "magic" to it. It is gone, now.

MG Says: Thanks to Scott from Oregon.

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