Once again Harry Smith reported from Baghdad for this morning’s Early Show. This morning, his focus was talking with ordinary Iraqis about their life during the war, and Harry Smith may have once again been surprised when he heard one Iraqi thank America and all Americans who supported the war for what they did for Iraq. Rene Syler opened this segment:
Rene Syler: "We see opinion polls almost weekly telling us how Americans feel about the war in Iraq. But what do ordinary Iraqis think? Harry's live in Baghdad with that story. Harry, good morning."
Harry Smith: "Rene, an extraordinary opportunity. Seven Iraqi young men, all in their 20s, all college educated, they all speak English. We talked about everything from the danger of their everyday lives to Saddam Hussein and the role of America in this country. Now their answers will enlighten you, and they may surprise you."
The comments from the Iraqis were enlightening, but surprising? Possibly to liberals in the media who see nothing good in Iraq, and who believe the only strategy for success in Iraq is immediate withdrawal of American troops. The comments made by these ordinary Iraqis had both positive and negative elements of life in Iraq. Some were predictable, criticisms of the brutality of the sectarian violence for example and others were refreshing such as Iraqis thanking America for what it had done and acknowledging that, although mistakes were made along the way, the American government was right in removing Saddam:
Iraqi Man #2: "The American government made the right decision, probably weren't prepared very well, and made so many mistakes, that's true. But I don't think they're here to hurt us or to use us or take advantage of our situation. I think it's in America's best interest that things work in Iraq."
Smith followed up the Iraqi’s assesment by inquiring on what the Iraqi wanted Americans to know and how they should feel about the current situation in Iraq:
Harry Smith: "What's the most important thing you want America, people in America to understand about your life here?"
Iraqi Man #2: "I personally want to thank America for what they, for what it did to Iraq. I want to thank every American who supported this war. And I know even those who stood against it don't mean harm to us, but I want them to understand what has been done is a good thing indeed."
Harry Smith even summed up the importance of the American mission in Iraq in his closing:
"We also said should America stay? And their voice was unanimous, you have to finish what you started. And they also suggested that if you really want to see all-out civil war, America leaves and that's what's going to happen."
But as noted previously, not all comments were positive. The Iraqi man who thanked America, also noted the vicious nature of the violence. He seems to be talking about the sectarian violence as he mentions that speaking ill of Muqtada al Sadr can get you killed:
"They are killing people for what they say, just like Saddam. They kill people because they say, you know, I don't like Muqtada al Sadr for example. You get killed for that. They're using horrible ways to kill people. They're not just shooting them in the head. They suffocate them. They strangle them, they burn them. Horrible things. Things we heard about only in Saddam's days, they're coming back now, it's an effort to terrorize people. It's not just to eliminate your enemy. It's to force everyone to shut up, and stay home."
Mr. Smith then inquired if people preferred life under Saddam Hussein:
Harry Smith: "So you know people who would like it better the old way?"
Iraqi Man #1: "Yes. It breaks my heart knowing that. Because it was so bad, but now they feel it's worse. And they just wish that, they wish that the Saddam's regime could come back."
But Harry never bothers to follow up and ask what type of people this particular Iraqi knows who think they would be better off under Saddam. Under his regime there were people who were taken care of, so it’s natural that some would want his regime to return. Once again, it is nice to see a network airing statements from Iraqis that convey the need of American forces to stay for security reasons, as well as expressing gratitude for the freedoms and way of life our troops and our resources are trying to provide for them.
Note: The identifiers used, Iraqi #1 and Iraqi #2, refers to the order in which they appeared in Harry Smith's piece this morning as their names were not given.