Friday, July 28, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Outlaw Mike

Siren's Beauty by Gavin Mackintosh - Flickr

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.

When you think of Belgium, you think of Chocolates, European Bureaucracy, and Outlaw Mike. In this In T View, we present one of Belgium's premiere bloggers, Michael C. from the very intriguing Down East blog. Take it away, Outlaw Mike....

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

Michael: When OIF started in March 2003 I was devouring anything I could find about Iraq - I guess I felt the toppling of SH was a pivotal moment in history, and that the attempt to install democracy in the ME by force was quite litterally history in the making. I don't know exactly how I stumbled upon ITM, but the way I was scouting for Iraq news it had to happen anyway. And actually, it found them not long after they started, somewhere in October. I guess via Salam Pax, whom I had been reading since just after OIF kicked off.

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

Michael: I'm still quite optimistic about the way things develop in Iraq. But I have come to see it as "just" a focal point - a battlefield if you will - in what has become a global struggle between The West and the Islamic World.

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

Michael: Frankly, I don't really notice that much difference. That is not meant as an insult towards Ali, because honestly, as for style, content and political leaning (if you could call it that way) I don't think one can discern major differences between ITM and Ali's blog. I'm very sorry they had (have?) that conflict between them and I hope they get it resolved in due time.

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?

Michael : It's fucking nonsense. Look, and I must stress now that I am NOT trying to flatter Americans here. I would really, really like to stress that. Anyone who looks at American history and US involvement in global politics must acknowledge that the US overwhelmingly acts as a "force of the good". It's as simple as that. I can discern only two "minor" US involvements in other countries' business I would label as "imperialistic". That's the war with Spain in 1898 and the US's seizure of Mexican land somewhere in - I would have to look that up - 1836 or something.
For everything else, we should thank God on our bare knees the US played the part of the "goodies". You refuse to acknowledge that, you're STUPID. Crazy. Nuts. Ignorant. An idiot. Whatever. So, if as a rational human being you state publicly you agree with US policy, does that make you a US agent? A stooge? Nope. If a guy shows you a blackboard with 2 + 2 = 4 on and you agree, are you a yes-nodder? Of course not. There's no denying the obvious.

Of course, should US foreign policy begin to resemble, say, French, Russian or Chinese foreign policy, a person with his head screwed on the right way could not remain adamantly pro-US either.

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?

Michael : Politics yes. I have learned about the parties, the blocs, possible coalitions, personalities. Culture and history not that much. But I guess they never meant it that way. Zeyad and Hammorabi occasionally posted very elaborate pieces on especially history, e.g. on Iraqi tribes or the Badr battle.

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

Michael : In my opinion, absolutely. Something had to happen. If anything, the stakes are much clearer now. The enemy has come out of the woodwork. The masks are off. The left has allied itself met radical Islam. OIF has forced everybody to show their true colors. Last but not least: Iraq and its aftermath may not have made the States many friends - but its enemies are RESPECTING AND FEARING IT, that's for sure.

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

Michael : It's a disgrace. Before I discovered ITM, I saved hundreds of small items of "good news" from small media outlets on my harddisk. Still have them. As I learned about a plethora of small positive developments (re-opening the railway connections to neighboring countries, a Coke factory that started up, a myriad of satellite dishes springing up, a sudden glut of small companies, wages raised five- or tenfold). I grew ever more flabbergasted why I could never hear, read or see this in my traditional news outlets. Did I know much, back in summer 2003, that three years later it would STILL be the same. During World War II, Churchill sometimes complained about the BBC's biased or excessively negative coverage. If Churchill would live today and would watch, say, CNN, he would order the SAS to kill Ted Turner.

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

Michael : Hell, both of them of course! No particular preference. But I would have to pass the beer. I can't drink a single drop of alcohol. Even small quantities give me violent migraine. Which is why I am always sober.

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?

Michael : It certainly isn't. A civil war supposes there are competing governments, political factions strong enough to equip their own armies. Like the Royalists against the Parliamentarians in Britain's Civil war, or Unionists vs Confederalists in the American civil war. I see none of that in Iraq. It is certain though that those people living in "hot" areas suffer an awful lot, and I am very much dismayed by that.

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

Michael : I like all the vets on my side of the fence - the people I learned to know right from the beginning. But there's one I'd call my pal above all: Jeffrey from NY. Like me, he's to some degree nuts, and this element more than anything else makes me feel like he's a kindred soul.

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?

Michael : Honestly, I don't think so. Maybe once, to visit Samarra or Ur. But it's too hot. I don't like southern countries. Never visited Spain, e.g., nor do I intend to. I have a knack for the UK though and especially Scotland. I'd also like to visit nordic countries and if I have an escapist phantasy it's that I really, REALLY, would like to visit the Faeroer islands.

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?

Michael : There's some kind of bond, allright. People like Louise Shah, Andrea/Minnesota, Jeffrey, thewiz, Diane C., Lee C.... even though I am almost not commenting anymore - but that's for technical reasons. On one of my two puters I'm not even able to open up the comment's section. On the other one, on which I am only for a couple of hours a week, I am experiencing problems though.

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?

Michael : I truly admire their cool (Allah knows I can't keep my cool like them) and their decent language (I am sometimes an itsybitsy pottymouthed once in awhile). I admire their courage. In the worst case, the conflict between the West and the Islamic world will erupt in flames globally and factions from over there who were initially with us may choose for sectarian and ethnic bonds instead - kind of like many Germans who were not Nazis nevertheless carried on to fight for Hitler as the Allies intensified military action against Nazi Germany. If this conflict intensifies - and I fear that in Europe a civil war is looming at the distant horizon - I hope people like me and people like Omar and Mohammed and Ali will never be pitted against each other. I bear them personally NO ILL WILL, but I'm having the greatest difficulty to keep neutral and calm while Islam is increasingly imposing itself in Europe.

MG Says: Thanks to Michael!

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