Pentagon to Iraq: No press freedoms for you!

March 29, 2004

Iraq’s shaping up as a brutal testing ground for our revered notions of a marketplace of ideas. From my vantage point in suburban California, it’s outrageous that U.S. troops shut down an anti-U.S. newspaper in Baghdad.

But there’s no denying that any number of factions are exploiting their freedoms to strengthen their ability to call the shots in Iraq, and most of these factions are no more democratic than the mullahs running Iran.

A telling quote:

“When you repress the repressed, they only get stronger,” said Hamid al-Bayati, a spokesman for the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a prominent Shiite political party. “Punishing this newspaper will only increase the passion for those who speak out against the Americans.”

The copy editor part of me can’t help thinking: If repression made Iraqis stronger, they’d all have Marvel Comics nameplates after a couple decades of Saddam’s tender mercies. Logic is so rare in a war zone.

Whatever the logic for shutting down the Baghdad paper, it looks bad for the Pentagon to be saying, in effect, “we decide whose press gets to be free, and critics of the occupation should be happy we’re not killing and torturing you like Saddam would’ve.”

Kinda hard to build broad public support around, “well, we’re not as bad as Saddam.”

4 Responses to Pentagon to Iraq: No press freedoms for you!

  1. Jeff on March 29, 2004 at 2:31 pm

    I always enjoy when Islamic extremists lecture on personal freedom and repression.

  2. tom on March 29, 2004 at 2:49 pm

    Somebody in the White House Situation Room must’ve accidentally shredded the memo which cautioned, “four out of five internists agree: invasion and occupation of a foreign country causes critical malfunctions in the population’s gratitude glands. ”

  3. Jeff on March 29, 2004 at 4:54 pm

    Perhaps they would have enjoyed their own press freedoms if they had liberated their own country.

  4. tom on March 29, 2004 at 5:54 pm

    I’m holding out some hope that their ingratitude and our ineptitude are being exaggerated in the press.