by Bob Allen
blackout around the razing of Fallujah it was an
unexpected pleasure to see the candid interviews of Iraqis in the recently
released film About Baghdad. Filmed
in the months immediately following the 2003 invasion, the politics seem like a
decade ago. Bremer had just arrived to rule Iraq. It was before the Shi’ite campaign for direct elections, before the April
uprisings, before Abu Ghraib. Before Iraq
had been granted “sovereignty”! This was a time when millions of Iraqis were
willing to concede some potential benefit from the U.S. occupation. Before
the U.S. turned its big guns
against the Shi’a in Sadr City
The summer of
2003 is already history, but it is a valuable history. One of the things that
struck me was how many times in the film obvious opponents of the Ba’ath regime condemned the injustice of the UN sanctions
This is a valuable point for U.S.
audiences who were encouraged to believe that any opposition to the sanctions
among Iraqis was staged Ba’ath Party rhetoric.
One of the
best scenes is an interview with the president of the Baghdad businessmen’s association. In a
crowded lobby before the glare of the cameras he enthusiastically praises the U.S.
occupation. But after a few sentences an outraged bystander interrupts the
interview to make sure that people abroad are not being misled to think that
this man’s views are representative of Iraqis generally. The upstaged business
leader angrily asks, “Who are you!?”
The man steps forward, looks his opponent in the eye, states his name, and
offers to pull his identification out of his wallet to prove it. Priceless.
The website aboutbaghdad.com has a very good
slideshow of Baghdad.