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Free Speech In Iraq

Thursday, July 17, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

I interviewed AEI’s Fred Kagan yesterday, who has just returned from an 11 -day trip around Iraq. The entire transcript is here and the podcast is here.

I asked Kagan about media and political debate in Iraq as the country approaches the crucial provincial elections:

HH: Now talk to us a little bit, we take so granted our free political press and the benefits it gives us, and the pleasure it gives us, and the outlet it provides us. What’s the media like in Iraq right now?

FK: Oh, the media is ferocious in Iraq. I mean, there are lots of media outlets, there’s free press. Most of the outlets, as in America, reflect one view or another, or one party or another. But there are enough of them that, and Iraqis can get them all, that they can get a pretty full picture. And there’s very vibrant political discourse, and there’s lots of arguments and name calling, and all the kind of stuff that we would be very familiar with. But the other thing about Iraq that’s found is when you fly over an Iraqi village, and it’s four mud huts on the ground, two of them will have satellite dishes.

Americans tend to take for granted the joys and benefits of a completely free media, one in which the temptation to political violence is always held down by the opportunity to organize and vent. One of the greatest gifts delivered to Iraq by the overthrow of Saddam was this freedom to argue and decry, inveigh and satirize. Those who want with Obama to bolt on the Iraqis are indifferent to amazing march of freedom in the former tyranny, and cannot be a friend of the Iraqi people or the broader Arab world which is watching a multi-party democracy take hold and deepen its roots.

Read the entire Kagan interview. He, Kimberly Kagan and Jack Keane are owed an immense set of thank-yous for the work they have done to persuade the Administration and the country to save Iraq and to publicize the unfolding victory there.

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