"There's no place like Iraq for a holiday" -- really?

Columnist Mark Steyn just completed two weeks of driving around Iraq on his own. His description of the conditions there was different from everything else I’ve been reading. He said:[ul][li]There’s no dysentery or cholera, []no sign of a human catastrophe, []the medical centres are empty and medical supplies are adequate []the countryside (outside Baghdad) is charming. []The refugees are primarily Palestinian. “In other words, this isn’t a human crisis but Arab politics - the longstanding refusal by Middle Eastern regimes to accord Palestinian residents any kind of legal status.”[]Despite the supposed “anarchy”, no one’s fleeing.[] In the western towns, which were relatively unscathed by the war, the Ba’athist buildings are the sole target of highly focused looting. Everything else is untouched []There’s plenty of food and water. [/ul]However, Steyn criticizes the activities of certain entities:[ul][]Western reporters who insist that America is “losing the peace”.[]The Red Cross and Oxfam, who are trying to find a problem to fix[]The World Food Program, who is being asked to distribute free food, which is unnecessary and which will hurt local shop-keepers[/ul]In Steyn’s words[/li][quote]
And perhaps that’s why I found rather more hostility towards the WFP, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees et al than towards the military. “Americans only in the sky,” one man told me, grinning as a chopper rumbled overhead. “No problem.” Down on the ground, meanwhile, the new imperial class are the NGOs. They shuttle across the globe, mingling with their own kind - other SUV users - and bringing with them the values of the mother country, or the mother bureaucracy. Like many imperialists, they’re well-meaning: they see their charges as helpless and dependent, which happy condition has the benefit of justifying an ever-growing aid bureaucracy in perpetuity. It will be very destructive for Iraq if the tentativeness of the American administration in Baghdad allows the ambulance-chasers of the NGOs to sink their fangs into the country.
So, in Steyn’s version, the fairly good conditions in Iraq are being misrepresented by Western reporters, and the NGOs are rushing around looking to fill needs that don’t exist.

– Are conditions as good as Steyn says they are?
– Are well-meaning NGOs part of the problem?
– Are reporters misleading their readers?

I would have liked to see some pictures of the places he visited…
And also, he doesn’t bring any proof that it’s actually like that.
But, I certainly hope it is like that, the Iraq’is deserve a better life from now on.

Maybe all the restaurants down there are privatized and bring set their own price on food which is too high for Iraqi locals.
3rd. I would assume reporters didn’t know how conditions were in the more remote parts of Iraq, maybe they just talked about central Baghdad and the other major citites that were hit.

Ah, ain’t life wonderful then.

Well, first as far as one can tell from this piece, the correspondent has gone through Kurdish territory, untouched by the war, and Western regions, again largley untouched.

So, super, fewer problems in the parts where one would expect essentially few fewer problems. It’s also fucking empty territory. The correspondent, evidently not wanting to get in the way of a mindless distortive hatchet job, rather than note that the bulk of the Iraqi populace lives in the eastern river basin valley and that is where the chaos, cholera and the like are reported.

By the way, I know the people who run the camp menitoned, it’s IOM, not UN. Good folks, competent and far more deserving than the asshole who wrote this piece of shit.

This is one pitiful attempt at spin.

Actually, Steyn wrote:

Well, december, I just put it to you this way.

I trust what I hear from my sources and from non-Telegraph journos more than this one single columist. When I say my sources, I mean folks who’ve been in on the ground and around.

Of course, you can trust this one fellow, it suits your preconcieved position. His characterization of the dangers, for example, rather do not match what I have heard elsewhere.

Yes, it does come down to a question of who to trust. Let’s look at the record.

In January, 2002, Steyn wrote a truly great column claiming that the “brutal Afghan winter” was a fiction perpetrated by the relief agencies. The results of the actual war proved that the US had no difficulty in winning quickly. The alleged “brutal winter” was bogus. BTW, the rapid US victory fortunately allowed relief to the needy Afghan people. So, in this case, Steyn disagreed with conventional wisdom, and events proved him correct.

Steyn also disagreed with CW about the alleged “170,000 looted museum aritfacts,” which also turned out to be fictitious.

IN short, Steyn has earned our trust.

He’s earned your “trust” – I believe faith is the better word, but then there’s no arguing with the true believer.

As to the Afghan column, I find it it rather … devoid of relevance, other than he seems to use the same rhetorical tricks.

Well, I see little point in continuing this with you, it’s rather like trying to nail jello to the wall.

This is a very strange column, and I think this is the most telling sentence:

‘And best of all, if you avoid Baghdad and a couple of other major cities, you’ll find the charming countryside completely unspoilt by Western reporters insisting that America is “losing the peace”.’

That’s like saying Texas is just fine save for chaos in Dallas-Ft. Worth and Austin, or Arizona is a scenic paradise except for Phoenix and Tucson (partically true, but…)

I would question the wisdom, if not the guts, of driving around alone in a country with zero law enforcement. His chutzpah seems to have run out at the outskirts of Baghdad, though - he doesn’t mention why he turned north there after driving all the way from Amman. Why didn’t he go into the city, or down to Basra, where the very troubles he dismisses are being reported?

In other words, not every square inch of the country was damaged by the war. Is this news to anybody? Does it have any bearing at all on any Iraq war issue? Was anybody against it because they though every square inch of dirt would be soaked in blood?

(those questions weren’t particularly aimed at you, barton)


If I understood you correctly in this older thread, you agreed that the 170,000 number was exaggerated by someone who wished to point out that the claims of distruction had not been as extensive as once was thought:



Do you still claim that only twenty-five artifacts are missing as opposed to the 14,000 reported by The Guardian?

AFAIK the current estimates of missing artifacts is not in the thousands, let alone 14,000. Many items originally thought looted had actually been placed in hidden vaults for protection before the Iraq war began, and other items were returned once agents talked of amnesty and potential rewards.

So, the basic summary of the article is:

Iraq is still functioning well, and relatively unaffected yb the recent war.

Except for in places where it has been effected by the war.

You know, december, Colorado is a rather flat, dry area except for where those pesky mountains are!

So, let’s see, which should we give more weight—the reports of probably hundreds of reporters from a variety of different news organizations or the reports of one conservative columnist?


I went to Iraq and visited a lot of places and everything is hunky-dory. Of course, I went to prove that everything is hunky-dory. Trust me, please. Thank you very much.

So those antiamerican demonstrations I see almost daily in the news, headed by muslim clerics. . . they are really not happening?

But jshore, those were all liberal reporters.

And those U.S. soldiers “killed in action” last week? They actually died from bullets fired into the air by jubilant Iraqis, celebrating the fall of yet another Saddam statue.

Good point, Ace Face. I forgot the first rule which is that all reporters are biased liberal except for those reporters/commentators who explicitly endorse and preach the gospel of Reason Magazine, the WSJ editorial page, Cato, or the Competitive Enterprise Institute in nearly everything they write. :wink:

And, Fox News, run by Roger Ailes, is “fair and balanced” just like it says it is (except when they let the occasional liberals on to tell their lies).

As I said, Steyn was right and the hundreds were wrong about the “fierce Afghan winter” and the 170,000 looted artifacts. Time will tell who is providing the more accurate picture of conditions in Iraq.

If things are really fucked up, we will continue to see month after month of articles about problem after problem in Iraq. OTOH if things are as good as Steyn claims, the media will not admit their mistake. Instead, they’ll simply drop the subject and start beating the Bush administration over something else – like the lack of WMDs.

How dare they! How flippant and juvenile ! When they should be apologizing and resigning en masse.