Because some readers have told me that they click on the "Robert Alt in Iraq" link on the left, and have missed articles published elsewhere or mentioned by others on the blog, I just wanted to bring to your attention that my "Like Mike" piece was published today on NRO, and my piece on The Al-Jazeera Effect was published in The Weekly Standard.
One astute reader noted the apparent paradox: the locals like us, but they are quick to think the worst. Here is my brief response, which I thought was worth reprinting:
Like most paradoxes, there is an explanation. They like us, but because of news like Al-Jazeera, they are souring. While it would have taken another article to explain why they are willing to believe the worst, I’ll try to give you something of a partial explanation. There is a very strong belief among Iraqis that an Iraqi will not commit these kinds of grave acts against other Iraqis. One Christian leader in Baghdad went so far as to say that it was contrary to the nature of an Iraqi to do so. Because of this, when something bad happens, they are very quick to believe that someone else did it. Therefore, they will quickly attach themselves to the theory that there are many, many foreign fighters here causing mayhem. And, unfortunately, they are willing to believe that the Coalition is responsible for events that are clearly caused by terrorism. Because this sentiment appears to be culturally-based, it is very hard to overcome. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, they will tend to believe the outrageous in order to avoid believing that some of their fellow countrymen are causing problems. Add outlets like Al-Jazeera to the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Well, perhaps disaster overstates it, but it is at least a recipe for increasing distrust.