February 16, 2006

“This is Your Country”

ERBIL, IRAQ – Iraqi Kurdistan has an official tourism board, but that doesn’t mean the region gets many actual tourists. Despite the fact that it’s by far the safest and (almost certainly) the most pleasant place to visit in Iraq, it has a long way to go before it becomes a holiday destination.

Travelers (rather than “tourists”) who don’t like running into other travelers, who yearn to be “off the map,” and who would rather learn about the world than take a break from it, might appreciate Kurdistan, though, as long as they don’t expect too much modernity or too many Western amenities.

Entertainment culture doesn’t really exist there yet. Don’t go and expect to have fun. Egypt, for example, is far more grim and depressing than Kurdistan, but it’s easier to have a good time if that’s what you’re looking for. Guatemala is much poorer and more dangerous and more politically dysfunctional, but it’s still a better place to go as a typical tourist if you want good food, hotels, and attractions.

I don’t mean to criticize when I say this. The Kurds have been through decades of fascism, genocide, and war. They suffered more than any other group of Iraqis. Northern Iraq endured more recent hardship than any other place I have ever been in my life. Scratch just beneath the happy veneer of Iraqi Kurdish adults and you’ll find people with family members murdered by Baathists, who experienced unimaginable oppression by a regime that wanted to completely erase them, and who fled to the mountains during the uprising in 1991 when the cities of Iraqi Kurdistan were emptied of people. They still have no sewage system, and they still only have a few hours of electricity each day. Having a good time just isn’t a priority for them right now.

But they do what they can with what they have. I went to a Turkish restaurant for dinner after sunset on the outskirts of Erbil on the way to the Christian suburb of Ainkawa. The entire neighborhood was dark. Not even a street light was on. The place had an eerie end of the world feeling to it. When I stepped into the restaurant, doubting it would even be open, a sharply dressed waiter led me upstairs to a room full of tables lit by candlelight. The restaurant was half full even in the dark, and the kitchen was serving hot food. Each table was draped in a white tablecloth. European-style mouldings framed the windows and the tops of the walls. Beautiful chandeliers hung from the ceilings. The place had class even in darkness. The waiters all spoke Turkish amongst themselves. They were Turkmen – in other words, Iraqi Turks who speak a slightly different dialect of Turkish than is spoken in Turkey. Dinner was amazingly good, much better than anything I expected to eat in Iraq. The food tasted all the better because it seemed so unlikely in a place that didn’t even have any light.

It’s impossible not to admire these people. Their attitude is go-go-go, build-build-build. They won’t let a little thing like a permanent power outage get in their way. They are the last people in the world anyone dare call lazy or apathetic.

Getting to know the people is the best reason to travel to Kurdistan, actually. Every Middle Eastern country I’ve been to has a tradition of hospitality that can’t be overstated. But the Kurds are even warmer than usual. Several Iraqi Kurds said “This is your country” when they first met me. How could I not love people who greet me this way? Especially when I know very well that it isn’t a polite (and culturally compulsory) cover for quiet anti-Americanism.

Iraqi Kurdistan is more pro-American than America. People there refer to George W. Bush as “Hajji Bush” (meaning he made the Muslim pilgrimage, the hajj, to Mecca), an incredibly high honor for a Christian from Texas whom most people hate. Bill Clinton may have been America’s first “black” president. But people in at least one part of the world say Bush is the first “Muslim” president. Weird and amazing, but true.

Thomas Friedman once described Poland as “a geopolitical spa,” a great place to visit if you’re tired of reactionary anti-Americanism. Iraqi Kurdistan may be a better “spa” than even Poland.

Before I went to Iraqi Kurdistan I asked a friend of mine who has been there about politics, economics, and security in the region. She thought my questions were a bit strange and not what she expected. She said that, for her, Kurdistan is a place to connect to through the heart. I first thought her response was “girlie.” I don’t so much anymore.


UPDATE: I wasn’t as clear above as I should have been. At least one liberal reader (in the comments) was put off by what I wrote about George W. Bush and Kurdish pro-Americanism.

Kurds aren’t Republicans. Not once did anyone say “I thank George W. Bush for freeing us from Saddam.” Thanks were always given to America as a whole. I never heard a single disparaging remark about the Democratic Party, John Kerry, etc.

Anyway, Kurdish pro-Americanism goes way beyond mere thanks for getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Kurdish people think like Americans in ways that surprised me again and again. Admiration for American values and culture is ubiquitous in that region. Even the Islamists I met were weirdly pro-American in some ways – and again it’s not just because the US destroyed Saddam Hussein. It goes deeper than that, and I’ll get into it in detail in future posts.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2006 06:18 AM
Comments

Great read.

Lawk Salih
www.lawksalih.com

Posted by: Lawk Salih at February 16, 2006 06:22 AM

Your trip to the Kurds was exactly as I found them in the Zahku area. I especially like the way they kept the restaurant open with candles.

I found folks in Arab Iraq trying too. The little restaurant in the departure lounge of Baghdad airport makes a good chicken sandwich (chicken and tomatoes wrapped in Pita Bread-may not sound great but it is). On the base in Balad we had a lot of local Iraqis. They would get you anything. Cell phone sims, that worked in Iraq. One guy wanted to set up a internet satellite in the hooch area. He ordered it from Dubai, but it come with a missing part. One of our Iraqis made a drive into Baghdad and picked up that part. Its only 60 miles or so but extremely dangerous. My last trip out the young kid who was cleaning the bathroom saw me look for paper towels after washing my hands (the dispenser was out), and went to his cart and with a huge smile tore off some toliet paper. Who could turn down the tp?

BTW Baghdad Airport is cleaner than the Paris Airport.

Here is a link to a nice clear map of Iraq, Erbil=Arbil. Zahku I spoke of, is north right on the Turkish border. Zahku has a pretty good infrastructure, stores, resturants working traffic lights etc. Dahuk is said to be pretty nice too.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/images/iraq-map_un1996.jpg

I would suggest travelers hit Kurdistan. No doubt this area will modernize very quickly and the locals will change but going now will give you memories of a lifetime.

http://www.theotheriraq.com/

Michael the only questions I have is how long were you in Erbil? Did you try to travel out to other Kurdish cities? And when are you gonna visit Arab Iraq? I think the southern most provinces could be visited by a security savy traveler fairly safely. Not the part of Iraq I was in of course.

Posted by: john beard at February 16, 2006 06:58 AM

It's almost like we're being greeted as liberators, or something.

Hope they can get some large power plants up and running soon. Maybe you can explain why this hasn't happened in the 2 years since the end of the war. With few security problems, it ought to be an ideal place for such projects to succeed.

Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: TallDave at February 16, 2006 07:02 AM

John,

I visited all the cities in Iraqi Kurdistan, and some of the more important villages. Will get to them in good time on the blog.

When will I visit Arab Iraq? As soon as I can.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2006 07:02 AM

Michael,

Thanks for a wonderfully refreshing series of posts.

Much appreciated, especially in today's climate.

Greg

Posted by: Greg at February 16, 2006 07:29 AM

This is amazing stuff, man. I don't even remember how I found your blog, but it's great to read such authentic writing about an area of which I know nothing, and with such an original viewpoint.

I am a writer by trade, and not only am I very busy lately working on both my second and my third book, but I only have so much time to read or do anything aside from write (or draw, I illustrate my books, too). but since you have started writing again, I visit the page regularly. I found you in the period while you were gone, and don't even know why I bookmarked the page! But I'm glad I did.

I am out the door now, and won't be back until tomorrow (maybe Sat), but I will be sure to send you a few dinero when I settle back into my desk and find my way to the clickie-clickie again.

Finally, for my own sense of backstory: Do you have a page/link that explains exactly who you are, and what the agenda of this blog is?

Posted by: jrh at February 16, 2006 07:33 AM

Iraqi Kurdistan is more pro-American than America

Michael, think about how insulting that is to about 55% of us Americans, if not more. I'm sorry - loving Bush does not make you "pro-American", it makes you pro-Bush. Sometimes it is the same thing, but not always. A lot of Americans dislike Bush precisely because they love America and they hate what Bush is trying to do to it. I really doubt that any Kurd cares about the future of the USA as much as I do. Their ancestors didn't settle here, their children won't grow up here. I'm very happy to hear that Kurds are grateful to us for liberating them but time will tell if their gratitude to Bush translates into a permanent love of American values.

And Friedman is a naive fool who lives in a bubble. I worked in Poland 2 years ago, and I speak Polish. Among the educated classes they are already doing their best to become good little Europeans and adopt knee-jerk anti-American attitudes. I had plenty of Poles tell me that America was wrong to invade Iraq. Friedman tells feel good stories for the NYT reading elite, that's about all he's good for.

Posted by: Vanya at February 16, 2006 07:48 AM

Vanya,

I didn't mean it the way you read it. Sorry for being unclear.

The Kurds aren't Republicans. None that I spoke to have any problem with the Democratic Party or with John Kerry.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2006 08:15 AM

Vanya,
It's pretty funny when leftists talk about how much they love America and that their burning hatred for Republicans just grows out of that love. Why do leftists refuse to see any good in anything America ever does? Any positive story has to be met with negatives from you folks.

Leftists hate America because America will never be run the way they'd like it to be run. Many people are starting to recognize this, which is why so many leftists are starting to talk about how their love of America forces them to have the tremendous anger about everything America ever does while non-leftists are in power. I'm glad people are finally starting to notice.

Posted by: Stankleberry at February 16, 2006 08:41 AM

I wish to make the suggestion that when Michael made the observation:

"Iraqi Kurdistan is more pro-American than America"

He means that the Kurds are attempting to understand and emulate the American philosophy of how we think and practice the best aspects of our culture more so than Americans - for example let's consider our 1st Amendment that calls for Congress not to make a law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof - what people nowadays interpret as separation of church and state, but which I interpret more positively as the right to the freedom of being able to practice one's own religious observances - including in the capacity as an elected official in government without any interference from the state itself. This might be the context of the unusual encounter Michael mentions with Kurdish Islamists that are more pro-American than other Islamists (which isn't really a big step up unless more info becomes more forthcoming). I am hoping that the Kurdish Islamists are embracing an American-born philosophy that their best bet in establishing Islam as a vibrant religion among the future-looking Kurds is not to establish an Islamic state - which is the establishment of Sharia law - but rather to more embrace the philosophy that the Kurdish government will not respect an establishment of religion, nor prohibit the free exercise of. It might be too much to hope for, but if the Kurds do this - belief in a religion such as Islam can only grow stronger as an exercise in freedom whereas many Persians in Iran do not even celebrate Ramadan because of the oppressive theocratic state.

Posted by: Matthew at February 16, 2006 09:39 AM

Stankleberry,
It's pretty funny when right wing nut jobs assume anyone who is unhappy with Bush is a "leftist", convienently pretending libertarians, paleocons, moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats don't exist. Not really much point in discussing anything with you.

Matthew (and MT)
You're right that I was a little oversensitive. If I was a Kurd I would be pretty fond of Bush too. But as a libertarian I get tired of Bush worshippers equating "love of Bush" with "love of America" (see Stankleberry, q.e.d.), leader worship is not a traditional American value. One thing Kurds will need less of is cult of personality thinking. To a lot of them it's "Bush vs. Saddam", but it's not really - it's American values, as you point out, vs. a way of life that conflicts with most other 21st century societies. This is a problem in the whole Middle East. People are always looking for a strong man and are too often ready to support one, and this has been a major obstacle to the creation of democratic governments.

Posted by: Vanya at February 16, 2006 10:54 AM

Mister American thinks he understands the Middle-East. Have you ever been there? Or know anything about the situation of the Kurds? They say "we have no friends but the mountains".. surrounded by four hostile states (Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria).. what do you expect they do?

Posted by: Vladimir at February 16, 2006 11:17 AM

Vladimir,

Who are you talking to, exactly?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2006 11:56 AM

Michael - thank you for giving us a "window" to Kurdistan.
Being pro-American doesn't mean you are pro- or aganist- any party.
Vanya - because you lived 2 years in Poland and speak Polish doesn't give you a voice to speak for ALL Poles. I was born in Poland and lived there under a communist regime. In my opinion most Poles are pro-American and they love Americans, who come to work or visit. It doesn't have anything to do with a war in Iraq or Bush. It's all about FREEDOM.

Posted by: Agnieszka O. at February 16, 2006 12:10 PM

Agnieszka,
I'm not speaking for all Poles - that is exactly why I was criticizing Friedman. I agree with you that most Poles love Americans, but I met quite a few Poles who hated/despised Bush and weren't shy about telling me so. Some "spa". My point is that Friedman was oversimplifying and ignoring the pernicious influence of German/French modes of thinking on the Polish elite. I thought Poland was a lot like Ireland - everyone loves the US, everyone has a cousin in Chicago or New York, everyone's grateful for US support against the former colonial oppressor (England/Russia) but elites in business/arts/journalism share a lot of the anti-American prejudices you'd find in the UK or Germany. From what MT describes you would not find that kind of prejudice in Kurdistan or even Lebanon.

Posted by: Vanya at February 16, 2006 12:39 PM

Great post, as always.

I've linked to your weblog, this post, and the two prior posts on my weblog:
The Is-Ought Problem
http://www.theisoughtproblem.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Charles Chapman at February 16, 2006 12:57 PM

Vanya,

How can you say I whitewash anti-Americanism in Lebanon? I'm on Hezbollah's blacklist for what I've written about them, and I even posted from Iraq on the thugs that burned down the Danish embassy in Beirut. There's plenty of anti-Americanism in Lebanon. Plenty of pro-Americanism, too. Depends on who you talk to. It sort of depends on which sect a Lebanese person is from, but it also sometimes doesn't. Some Shia are pro-American, and some Christians are anti-American. Just depends. There are more opinions in Lebanon than there are people.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2006 01:43 PM

Thanks for this blog, Michael! It makes a really refreshing change.

I agree with you that many people who have lived under truly repressive regimes associate the US with freedom. Freedom to work hard and progress without being held back by heavy government. Freedom to live and love and have families, bringing them up in the way we feel is best for them.

I visited the Communist bloc in the 1980s - where all those freedoms were denied, and a real atmosphere of repression and fear prevailed. People who whine about the US and its leadership as though it were one of those repressive states simply do not know what they are talking about.

They remind me of my school students who have had a cold, and say that they were suffering from 'flu!

No sense of proportion. No sense at all.

Posted by: Huldah at February 16, 2006 02:15 PM

Dear Michael
Thanks for giving all of us this window of opportunity to talk about Kurds and the truth of their loyalty whether it is to America rather than to their homeland Kurdistan?! I as a Kurd from the city of slemani/south Kurdistan, would like to thank you personally for telling the truth that:
{ Iraqi Kurdistan is more pro-American than America}. In fact i would be more honest to tell you that { Kurds are the most pro-american on the planet} Pro America as a state,goverment,nation,citizens and of course the current administration. If you ask me why?! Then the only answer i would give is: you will never understand unless you go there yourself and to see why Kurds are Pro-americans?! yes you guyes should go there and see how Kurds treat Americans whenever they get a chance! It is really strange and interesting the way we Kurds feel towards the Americans, so much i can not describe it! If you still not convinced then why dont you go to ( Not Kurdistan but wherever you could find a single Kurd ) then you shall hear what he/she will say,feel and think about America!
God Bless Independent Kurdistan And America.

Posted by: Hiwa at February 16, 2006 02:29 PM

Thansk for all the hard work you had to go through in order to blog about this. Cant wait for more updates.

Posted by: Justin at February 16, 2006 03:03 PM

"There are more opinions in Lebanon than there are people."

MAN, this statement is hilarious. You just showed that you understood lebanon. I think I will add it to my favorite quotes :)

Keep up the great work.

Posted by: yassine at February 16, 2006 05:53 PM

Michael:
Your report is much appreciated. It waters a dry spot in my soul which knows that we americans are basically a very generous people, whose sole fault is that we are powerful ( I am not apologizing). I hear and read so much decrying the US from obviously jealous commentators. From ealier reading on Iraqi Kurdistan I feel your comments relect the true nature of the people there.
I would like to ask the same question asked earlier-why such a long delay in getting the power up in a relatively uncontested area? Ntional distribution of power?

Posted by: Lee McDaniel at February 16, 2006 06:29 PM

In my opinion, a lefty could and would sniff out an anti-american opinion in a room full of invitation only VFW members.

Thank you Michael for doing what you are doing. Looking forward to the rest of your posts.

Posted by: EXDemocrat at February 16, 2006 06:31 PM

Thanks for the info. I'm feeling a strange expat pull in my heart. I hope to correspond with you, when you get back to the land of more than 2 hrs of juice per day, about the kinds of things folks need up there. How do the hospitals and schools manage? Do the hospitals at least have generators?

Posted by: Nortius Maximus at February 16, 2006 07:15 PM

Lee,

The problem with the electricity is that it's a central grid. Erbil is building a brand-new system from scratch.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 17, 2006 01:34 AM

By "central" I mean it's connected to Baghdad. That's what one person told me anyway.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 17, 2006 01:36 AM

Nortius,

Yes, hospitals have generators. Lots of houses and businesses do, too. Erbil is pretty dark at night, but I took a night photo of Suleimaniya (the second city, pop: 800,000) and I was surprised by how many lights are in it. I'll post that photo later.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 17, 2006 01:39 AM

I'd be interested to hear Kurdish views on the future of Iraq. Specifically, do they talk about the possibility of an independent Kurdish state?

Posted by: Steve M at February 17, 2006 01:58 AM

Another great post; it almost goes without saying.

"Pro-American" should mean, support for "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; protection of property." (Some of my Liberal friends called my Libertarianism -- Propertarianism, not far off.)

The First Amendment is so important: freedom of religion (first!), free speech -- free thinking. The only kind of society that truly respects individual, human rights.

It seems that most Bush-haters are unwilling to honestly admit they would rather have Saddam continue as dictator. Those were the two realistic choices, Bush's war or accept Saddam (and quite likely an end to sanctions). I'm sure the Kurds are glad Saddam is gone.

I, too, am interested in the Kurd's independence feelings. And if there's talk of genuine nation-state for the 25 mill. Kurds -- the largest "nation" without a state. (Turkey wouldn't be happy...nor Iran)

Also, what about US military bases? Any big airfields? (What about those gas prices?)

Posted by: Tom Grey - Libertay Dad at February 17, 2006 03:39 AM

Thanks for your report from the Kurdish area: its refreshing to hear of some good things coming out of the war: if at least the Kurds end up being free and secure it will perhaps all have been for something. I look forward to reading more of your reports.

Posted by: Jim at February 17, 2006 04:28 AM

Michael,

Did I say you were "white-washing" anti-American opinion in Lebanon? You are projecting. First you assume I'm a "liberal reader", now I'm accusing you of "white-washing." What? I suppose I could have been clearer. From your posts you make it appear that in Lebanon you have met a number of people who are very sincerely pro-American. Is that not true? That is also my impression from my Lebanese friends, many Lebanese have very strong pro-American feelings. In Poland people like Americans, think they're cool, etc. but it's not the same thing, there's no gratitude, no sense that we're in the same fight. Hence I think Friedman is full of it when he talks about Poland being "a spa", my impression is that Lebanon, despite the many idiots in Hizbullah, is a place where an American can truly feel good about being American and what America is doing in the world. Is that wrong? Maybe I've misread you.

Posted by: Vanya at February 17, 2006 07:18 AM

Vanya,

Apparently we misunderstood each other. I get you now. Sorry for the confusion. Comment threads do have their limits.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 17, 2006 07:36 AM

Vanya,
Haha, yea, there seems to be quite a lot of leftists making comments on non-leftist websites claiming that they are very angry at Bush but they aren't leftists at all. Honestly and seriously! Nobody's falling for that crap.

Posted by: Stankleberry at February 17, 2006 10:17 AM

"Hajji Bush"?? By God, that made me choke up...kind of hard to type when the eyes get blurry.
I think I will remember this for the next ten thousand years...

Posted by: Julian at February 17, 2006 12:04 PM

Hello. I found this blog very interesting. I was a 1st LT back in April of 2003 when my unit helped liberate Erbil and Kirkuk, in Northern Iraq. The only way to describe the Kurdish welcome is to compare it to the welcome the American GIs recieved in Paris in 1944. We had flowers thrown at us and entire villages greated us on the road as our tanks and bradleys rolled by. (compared to stares and RPGs that welcomed other units in the Sunni and Shite areas) Having stopped because of traffic one old Kurdish man begged me to take his 8 year old granddaughter to America with me. He kept lifting her up and trying to put her on my bradley. For a young 23yr old, this was quite an emotional experience- how many of you have had to turn down an old man's insistant requests to take his granddaughter back to America with you? For the next year I was in Kirkuk, working with Kurds everyday. When Saddam's sons were killed the city errupted in gunfire, celebrating the death of two terrors who knew no bounds. And when Saddam was captured, wow! The Kurds are an awesome people who would do anything for an American, even though we left them to Saddam after their failed bid at independence back in 92-93. Thanks for the good blogs and keep them up.

Posted by: Ryan at February 18, 2006 06:41 AM

When I moved to Czechoslovakia in early 1990 there were American flags casually displayed all over the place, hanging from truck drivers' rear view mirrors, etc. At the edge of one town in western Bohemia I saw the handwritten sign "Welcome, friends", evidently addressed to the Americans who had liberated the area in 1945 - and Americans in general. Back then I was a recovering lefty. Just wait, I thought. They won't always be so well disposed toward America. But what I came to realize is, that America is a symbol, more than a symbol, of hope for people in a lot of desperate places.

Posted by: Todd Hammond at February 18, 2006 02:27 PM

Thank you Michael, I am having a degree in Middle East politics reading and discussing your writing with my wife and kids. It is very refreshing and enlightening indeed. We now clearly know the Middle East is not monolithic and do nort always speak with one voice. Keep on the good work? Are you going to complile your writing and findings into a booklet?

Posted by: John Awunganyi at February 19, 2006 09:36 AM

Flashback to Wednesday March 19, 2003, the days when Turkey voted on the approval of US's use of Incirlik Air Force Base as a platform against Iraq:

The leaders of the two major Iraqi Kurd political parties, Turkmen representatives, Turkish government officials and the U.S. special envoy to the northern Iraqi opposition agreed Wednesday..[March 19, 2003]....to preserve "Iraq's independence, sovereignty, and territorial and national unity."

Lest we all forget, all of those breath-taking photos on your site are images of Northern Iraq. Calling it by the misnomer "Southern Kurdistan", doesn't make it so... Apparently the decision of the Turkish lawmakers against the use of Incirlik, was the correct one, and I salute them for making the choice democratically. The knife cuts two ways. Let's hope the Turks do not decide to protect their interests in Southeast Turkey with a show of force. Next thing you know, the best seller "Metal Storm" will seem less like fiction and more like an accurate prediction. Please check this article at CS Monitor:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0215/p01s04-woeu.html

Posted by: Amerikan Turk at February 19, 2006 09:46 PM

I find it amazing that some Americans can travel tens of thousands of miles into the middle of nowhere & still write as if they never left home. Michael took with him his misty-eyed belief in the American burden to bring democracy and freedom to the huddled masses of the Mideast & by God you know what he found?? Arabs yearning to tear off the yoke of tyranny and build themselves some cool-looking American tract homes in the middle of Kurdistan. It's truly touching I tell you.

Hajji Bush? Bush is the first Muslim president?? I don't know who's more deluded--your informant or you for being charmed by such idiocy.

I really like the term 'Larry of Arabia' for describing Michael's impossible journey to the middle of nowhere bringing American light wherever he goes. But in fact, T.E. Lawrence "went native" and the only way Michael would do the same is if he could live in one of those "Scarsdale palaces" (“a dead ringer for a house in American suburbs”) in the middle of "Dream City" Erbil w. the wife, kids, dog & wifi connection. For T.E. Lawrence that simply would not do.

I just love Roger Simon's "endorsement" in your blog sidebar. So Rog called you a "liberal." Tell me, how does a "liberal" get interviewed in the National Review? Or are you "liberal" because your fellow Pajamas Media blogger, that other lib Marc Cooper, publishes you in the L.A. Weekly?

About the only thing I can say for you is that you're not as much of a hard right ideological ranter as your good friends Roger Simon & Chuck Johnson. And you write much better than them too.

Posted by: Richard Silverstein at February 21, 2006 10:50 PM

"About the only thing I can say for you is that you're not as much of a hard right ideological ranter as your good friends Roger Simon & Chuck Johnson. And you write much better than them too." Richard Silverstein

Here's something else you could say for Michael, Rick. He's there, talking to Iraqis. And you aren't.

Listen and Learn.

Posted by: Sybil Vimes at February 23, 2006 12:20 AM

iam a kurd from hawler(erbil is the arabic name for my city.
for me my love of kurdistan is very strong.i guess because we felt lonely on this planet ,we felt our only friend was the mountains,we are arabs turks or persians.we are strongly kurdish.
we felt betryal from the powers that be and we still do.we were mass executed ,gassed killed my the hundreds of thousands for a most parts of the 20th centuary with a deafing silence from humanity.we are kurds.but more then that we are humans,we never lost our humanity in our struggle ,for us kurds this is a deep principle of our nature.in all our desperation we never blew up a sky scraper,we never killed innocent children and women even when our own children and women were killed in their thousands.
so when ,for what ever politics or self interst a nation such as america comes and helps us.we are eternally greatful.
we will get our kurdistan back,the question is when.i hope to god it is in my life time as my grandfarther farther and myself have fought for this and so shall my son.
kurdistan is our god given right.

Posted by: k at March 1, 2006 02:05 PM
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