Monday, January 03, 2005

IT'S ONLY January 3rd, but Arthur Chrenkoff already has the first roundup of good news from Iraq for the year:
An interesting experiment recently took place in Iraq seeking to uncover a rarely explored aspect of life in the country, writes Jeff Jacoby: "How would Iraq appear if we saw it through not the reporting of Western journalists, but the candid testimony of Iraqis themselves? American reporters accustomed to freedom and the rule of law experience Iraq today as a place of danger and violence. Iraqis who lived under Saddam were accustomed to tyranny, cruelty, and secret police. What do they make of their country today?"

To find out, three Americans (two film-makers and a former Marine) distributed 150 digital video cameras to ordinary Iraqis, asking them to record anything they
consider worthwhile and then pass the cameras on to others. The resulting 450 hours of footage from 2,000 Iraqis was distilled into an 80-minute documentary "Voices of Iraq". As Jacoby writes, the documentary "is by turns heartbreaking,
exhilarating, and inspiring. The war and its destruction is never far from the surface... But bad as the war is, the horror it ended -- Saddam's 24-year reign -- was worse... Yet for all they have been through, Iraqis come across as incredibly optimistic, hopeful, and enthusiastic. And above all, normal."

Occasionally - but not too often - we catch in the media the glimpses of that other Iraq; the optimistic, hopeful, enthusiastic, and normal one. More often than not, however, our access is restricted to the now very familiar Iraq of constant bloodshed, rampant terrorism, political instability, stalled reconstruction and widespread disillusionment and frustration. Only time will show which Iraq proves to be more resilient and consequential. But for the time being, as the struggle for the soul and the future of the country goes on, it pays to bear in mind that this struggle if far from an one-sided one; that as the violent Iraq strikes, the normal Iraq fights back, on thousands of fronts, and in thousands of small ways. Here are some of these stories from the past fortnight.
Read the rest.