“The Myth: Iraqis, prior to occupation, lived in little beige tents set up on the sides of little dirt roads all over Baghdad. The men and boys would ride to school on their camels, donkeys and goats. These schools were larger versions of the home units and for every 100 students, there was one turban-wearing teacher who taught the boys rudimentary math (to count the flock) and reading. Girls and women sat at home, in black burkas, making bread and taking care of 10-12 children.
“The Truth: Iraqis lived in houses with running water and electricity. Thousands of them own computers. Millions own VCRs and VCDs. Iraq has sophisticated bridges, recreational centers, clubs, restaurants, shops, universities, schools, etc. Iraqis love fast cars (especially German cars) and the Tigris is full of little motor boats that are used for everything from fishing to water-skiing.
“I guess what Im trying to say is that most people choose to ignore the little prefix re in the words rebuild and reconstruct. For your information, re is of Latin origin and generally means again or anew.
“In other words — there was something there in the first place.”
I’d love to feel more optimistic about the long-term strengths of India, but sometimes its hard. Consider today’s Financial Times report on the dispute at Ayodhya.
Uttar Pradesh, UP in Indian shorthand, is the poorest state in India. But political leaders spend their time arguing over the Hindu and Moslem claims to land in the holy city. The FT’s conclusion is spot on.
“Those hoping that ultimately irresoluble disputes like this would fade with time have been rudely disabused. The 170m people of Uttar Pradesh are among the poorest in India. Most still lack access to electricity or drinking water. But it seems that the fate of a once-obscure mosque will preoccupy their political leaders for another election at least.”