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November 21, 2003

JAMES LILEKS IS SLAMMING SALAM PAX for his snarky comments in The Guardian, which thanked Bush for toppling Saddam but complained about poor service afterward:

Hey, Salam? Fuck you. I know you’re the famous giggly blogger who gave us all a riveting view of the inner circle before the war, and thus know more about the situation than I do. Granted. But there’s a picture on the front page of my local paper today: third Minnesotan killed in Iraq. He died doing what you never had the stones to do: pick up a rifle and face the Ba’athists. You owe him.

Indeed he does. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner says that Lileks is wrong. I don't think he is, though I do think Bush I was wrong to leave Saddam in power in 1991, and I would add on my own part that Salam showed real courage in his blogging, if not the kind of courage that would (directly) overthrow the tyrant. But I just think that Salam has lost a bit of perspective hanging out with Guardian types in London. And so, I think, does Salam's friend G, back in Baghdad, who writes to Salam:

tell your friends in London that G in Baghdad would have appreciated them much more if they had demonstrated against the atrocities of saddam.
And if you could ask them when will be the next demonstration to support the people of north Korea, the democratic republic of Congo and Iran?

(Emphasis in original). I agree with G.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon agrees with Lileks. Robert Tagorda agrees with Drezner. For what it's worth, what I think Lileks objects to about Salam Pax's letter is not that it's criticizing the reconstruction, but its snarkish, Dowdesque tone. One Fine Jay observes: "It is understood, that we — all of us living in this nation — freed him and his ilk from Saddam, but we do not demand praise, adulation, nor a hive mind from Iraqis. . . . Maybe we as a nation can ask for a little bit of class, certainly a bit more than what Salam Pax has shown so far." The Fat Guy agrees, and John Weidner responds to Salam's point about Bush cleaning up the mess: "What we are doing is not "cleaning up the mess." It's more like getting you into good enough shape to start cleaning up your own nasty mess. Sort of like taking in hand someone who's been on a drunken binge. Get 'em a shower, clean clothes, pep-talk, a lot of coffee...so that maybe they can make it into work and not get fired. What you would call 'cleaned-up' is just a starting-point for what we call a clean-up. The best day Iraq ever had is still squalor by our standards."

Call it "tough love."

MORE: Useful Fools has an, er, useful roundup of Iraqi bloggers who aren't Salam Pax.

STILL MORE: Bryan Preston is saying "I told you so."

Bo Cowgill weighs in with this observation: "James Lileks was unrealistic to expect Pax to take up arms against Saddam as American soldiers did. But that doesn't mean that Salam Pax's screed was praiseworthy in the slightest. It was disrespectful and self-promoting. Stop defending Salam Pax on this one."