Raheem, who lost a son to a stray American bullet a few years ago, is a pragmatic and pious Shiite Muslim who argues that while the cost of the invasion was high, Iraqis now have their first opportunity to do what they want—whether that means building a secular democracy or a religious autocracy.
“We feel that Bush has done something good for us, despite all the mistakes,” said Raheem, as we made our way through the dusty streets of Baghdad. “It’s politics. In politics you look at your interests. OK, many Americans were killed, and many Iraqis were killed. But still, if he hadn’t interfered, Saddam would have stayed, and we would have been ruled by his sons, his daughters, and his grandchildren.”
A few days later, I talked with my friend Salar, a Sunni Kurd. “At the moment, it’s not utopia, but the situation is incomparably better,” he said, sitting in his office, where he had tagged a Schopenhauer quote to the wall: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”