Failure and Denial in the Arab World
by Ralph R. Reiland (April 13, 2003)
Summary: The lack of freedom in the Arab world has delivered a profound lack of human development.
It's hard to come off as more bizarre than Madonna (she works at it) but that's how Mohammed Saeed Sahaf, Iraq's information minister, looks on TV
as I'm writing this. With U.S. jets controlling the air over his head and American soldiers just 100 yards or so from where he's standing for his
outdoor news conference in Baghdad, Sahaf has an announcement. "There are no American troops in Baghdad," he says. Who you gonna believe, Sahaf is
saying, me of your lyin' eyes?
The night before, Sahaf was blaming "the Fox people" for running fake films. Those, he said, were shots made in Hollywood --- the tracer fire
crisscrossing the night sky over Baghdad, the string of American tanks and armored vehicles rolling into the capital, the bombed-out palaces, the
toppled Saddam statues, the people in Basra giving thumbs-up to the British troops.
The real story, he said, was that Iraq still controlled the Baghdad airport and that American troops were committing suicide on the outskirts of the
In fact, the airport had become Rummy International and it was the Iraqis who were killing themselves by putting the pedal to the floor and attempting
to drive their cars and pick-ups into an approaching column of American M1 Abrams tanks. In putting junky trucks up against the world's top battle
tanks, 63-ton vehicles equipped with machine guns, 120mm cannons, infrared vision devices and automatic target cueing, the Iraqi drivers, of course,
were picked off easier than those little plastic ducks that float around at that stand in Kennywood Park, the place where you pluck a duck out of the
water and turn it over to see if you won a 10-cent ring or a cheap Hawaiin lei.
Madonna, at least, saw the writing on the wall and decided to withdraw the anti-war video for her new single "American Life." On top of showing a
mushroom cloud over Iraqi children, the video for the title track of the new album shows Madonna in military garb on a fashion runway with some unisex
dancers in camouflage. At one point, a grenade is tossed in the lap of a President Bush look-alike. "I do not want to risk offending anyone who might
misinterpret the meaning of this video," said Madonna. In other words, America's winning, Dubya's on top and I'm not as dumb as that big-mouthed