Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Peter From Australia

Tim "Bond" Blair, Superspy by DC, Courtesy of SEARCH

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 Australia, you think of Kangaroos, shrimp on the barbie, Aborigines, the Yowie: Australia's version of the Bigfoot, and Peter from Australia, a longtime commenter at ITM, who speaks longingly of freedom and democracy for the Iraqis and the world at large. Take it away, Peter from Australia...

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

Peter: I can't remember exactly how I came to find ITM. I believe I uncovered it through Tim Blair's weblog as I was trying to find out more of what was going on in Iraq. As our country was involved in Iraq I believed I had the right and need to comment on both our involvement and the continuing process of Iraqi freedom.

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

Peter: I carry the same optimism on the future of Iraq but now with a more realist attitude. In the beginning I just thought that it would be a quick solution to a problem; we go in Iraqis take over and we go home. I was viewing it from the NOW generation perspective. Unfortunately the best thing take time, sacrifice and worst of all lives but I still believe Iraqi freedom and democracy will be worth the fight.

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

Peter: I had not been reading ITM long before Ali left. To be honest, at that time I had not really distinguished between the brothers. I do believe though the weblog has matured as time has pasted on and became deeper, more thoughtful and a real window into Iraq.

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?

Peter: I find a lot of these criticisms are only attacking the brothers because they struggle to argue against there thoughts. Maybe they are pro-American but if America gives them what they want why not? As for where they are located I can never truly know for sure but depending on what happens to the country or themselves personally (as shown recently with the murder of their brother-in-law) the writing changes. Most of their ideas seem too Iraq first to be CIA or Agents. But as I stated at the beginning if someone wants to pull them down, get facts, arguing strongly against their ideas but just trying to denigrate them through conspiracy theory wins no points in my book.

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?

Peter: I have definitely learned a great deal more about Iraq (cultural, political, social and economic) than I ever thought I would. The more the brothers have opened the window for me the more I have tried to discover more for myself. I would never have discovered Australia's involvement in Iraq during WW1 if I had not discovered ITM. I would never have known how much Australia has been linked to Iraq ever since without ITM. It is not just Iraq that ITM has opened up for me but also I now have a greater understanding of the wider Middle Eastern community. I have discovered weblogs from freedom in Iran http://www.activistchat.com/?blogiran (definitely worth reading at this time) through to others in Egypt and insights into Lebanon and Jordan. The more the brothers tell me the more I want to uncover for myself.

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

Peter: I would prefer not to comment on American involvement as I am not an American but I will say that I am glad and proud that Australia is involved. America has taken the brunt of the casualties and criticism for being involved in Iraq but I still believe that our involvement was just and necessary. Ever since the First Gulf War we were going to have to come back and finish the job. As an American pilot stated, America and Britain have flown combat mission everyday since the First Gulf War. But what other choice did we have? Sanctions were a joke (AWB wheat scandal in Australia is one example), the Iraqi people were suffering while for Saddam it was pretty much business as usual and the UN would eventually have not tired of dealing with Saddam not playing by the rules and moved on. If the no-fly zone ended and the UN gave up Saddam would have gone back to what he was before and we would have had to fight him anyway but against a more powerful Saddam. It is easy for me to say that it has been worthwhile as I have not had to loose a loved one as too many American families had. I can only say what would Iraq and the Middle East have been like if we didn't go in? Yes, the insurgency is terrible but once again I believe we would have had to fight them anyway if was just that Iraq proved a ready battleground for the confrontation.

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

Peter: I do believe that the World Media has let Iraq and our troops down. The only time we hear about Iraq is if something is wrong but where are the interviews with Iraqis. Every now and then (outside of the brothers) a voice is allowed through stating that Iraqis don't want to go back to the days of Saddam but after viewing and reading the World Media you would nearly think that the Saddam era was a peaceful and happy time. The anti-Americanism is pathetic; statements of American Imperialism and "they did it for the oil" still appear. Ideology has stepped in over news coverage. Yes, attack what is wrong but then don't ignore what is going right. The Iraqis are a proud people they shouldn't be portrayed as pathetic bystanders especially now that their own forces are making gains (saw them at work of the news one night recently, someone must have forgot to censor it). The portrayal of insurgents as liberators when they are killing there own people I just find hard to believe. Unfortunately this type of journalism is not just an Iraq or a war thing; it has become as a disease in journalism in general. They now believe it is up to them to promote change and push ideals; provide their audience with news is of lesser importance. I am doing a journalism minor so I have seen this process developing in future journalist. They view themselves now as a separate class that must teach the ill informed.

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

Peter: This question is like asking which eye I prefer to look through; without either my sight is reduced. If I had to choose it would be Mohammed by a nose (please don't tell Omar) as I enjoy his passion in his writing. Omar is very good at breaking the facts down so I have a better understanding of them but if I wanted someone to lift passion and present a real need for being in Iraq I would choose Mohammed. We need the facts but passion for the cause will keep us from backing down when things appear to be failing.

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?

Peter: I do not see what is happening as a Civil War mainly because there are still more voices against civil war than there are for it. After hearing the words from the Iraqi parliament the representatives are determined to work together. This is not the sign of a civil war. That there is bombings, murder and harassment point to a country that is still struggle to come under civil control. This can only be possible when Iraqis gain trust within those who they have voted for. Until that time they will continue to turn to the militias for protection, the religious leaders (good and bad) for leadership and they will fear standing up for their own opinions while the country leadership remains weak. If the parliament turns against itself it would be different but as I stated before more voices want peace and unity than war.

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

Peter: Soldiers Dad would definitely have to be one. He is knowledgeable and very respectful in debates. I have seen many times two commentors arguing until Soldiers Dad speaks up and clears the smoke highlighting the reality but without making a personal attack. I would love to buy him a beer and have a chat about history in general with him one day. Hameed Abid would have to be a close second as he speaks with passion about Iraqi freedom, has pride in Iraq and Iraqis but is not afraid to thank outside nations that are trying to rebuild Iraq. Hameed comes across as very respectful and honourable person.

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?

Peter: I would love to visit Iraq in the future. Even before the war I had a fascination with the Middle East through my interest in Ancient History and the stories of the Bible. To walk through this ancient country would be a dream. Now after Australia's involvement in Iraq and reading ITM I feel a greater need to visit this country I have learned so much but so little about. Maybe if I'm lucky I might even be able to have a coffee with Mohammed and Omar.

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?

Peter: I would most definitely say that I feel a bond between myself, other commentors and Omar and Mohammed. I feel I have become part of their hopes and dreams. After reading about the loss of their brother- in-law I felt that a part of my hopes and dreams for Iraq had been stolen. I have listened to their hopes for the future, I have felt for them at times when things have seemed to go backwards and I have cheered them on as the stood up for their rights during the elections. Also I have spoken to them more than once through emails. Though I have never met them I feel that they are my mates(we take that seriously down here). Knowing that they are being helped by the Australian, American and other coalition forces involvement makes me very proud. They are not just numbers or names on a screens. These are real people, flesh and blood, who have invited me into their lives and I am richer for that. I truly pray that they stay safe as I have a strong emotional attachment to them both now, something I didn't think I would have when I first read ITM written by people in a far away country who I didn't know.

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?

Peter: I would like to say to the brothers that I am so glad that I found their weblog and that they have invited me into their lives. I have a stronger belief that Australia is doing the right thing in Iraq because of knowing them. I have contacted my representatives in the Australian Parliament to state that our involvement in Iraq is just and must continue (to which I received positive replies). I will continue to pray for them, their families and country and hopeful, soon, we can meet together for a cuppa (tea or coffee) in Baghdad without fear in a truly free and democratic Iraq. Hope this helps you for your In T View...

MG says: Thanks to Peter from Australia!

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