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But wait, I thought the Iraqis were all suffering under the brutal American occupation. Tell them to suffer! They're supposed to be suffering!

Great find, thanks for the link! I emailed the article to several people.

The translation leaves out quite a bit, especially the first few paragraphs which mention problems Iraqis face, and the last paragraph which compares Iraq to a prison.

It also adds a few paragraphs at the end. The last four paragraphs are not in the original story at the Berliner Morgenpost.

Here's a more accurate translation:

--- begin ---

Freedom, money and cheap cars.

The inhabitants of Iraq aren't quite able to appreciate many things that should've already been natural.

Nothing is more powerful than day to day life. This is true in Iraq as it is everywhere else. Little is more important than to bemoan one's own misfortune. This applies particularly in Iraq. But there is also a light in the country which stands at the beginning of a new era.

Baghdad - The Iraqis see, if they think about their situation, lack of electricity, long lines for gasoline, unemployment, rising prices, and the unhindered growth of crime.

In order to see things differently one would have to imagine an Iraqi who has been asleep for a year, a little like the ailing mother in the film "Good Bye Lenin." The awakened Iraqi's last moment of consiousness was in Saddam Hussein's Iraq of January 2003. Now he opens his eyes. On TV, CNN, the BBC, or more than likely the Arab language network banned by Saddam, Al Jazeera is playing. His brother is using a cell phone to talk to his cousin in Germany. Cell phones were banned under Saddam, and peopel with relatives living abroad were viewed with suspicion. There's cash lying on the table - yesterday was payday - there are American dollars. The brother earns $100.00 per month, about quarduple what he was making when Saddam was in power. He works as a proofreader at one of the approximately 150 new independent newspapers, in which anything can be written or said except for calls to violence.

More amazing than anything else, and at the same time the thing that explains it all, is the absence of Saddam's picture on the wall above the living room cabinet. Saddam himself, the Iraqi experiences, is part of the past. If he is a Kurd or a Shiite, then this news is more important than all other news. If he is a Sunni, he is also happy - but he hears that the Americans are running the country, and that when they leave more than likely the Shiites will have power and the Kurds will have a large autonomy.

From now on there are no more threats from state security forcing sons to join Fedayeen Saddam, or imprisoning people who do not betray what their neighbors are doing. And above all, two cousins who had been jailed by Saddam for no reason are now returned to their family.

In the yard of the house is a shiny Opel Astra station wagon. Used and from Germany. It cost $2500, a lot for the family, and every family member contributed to the purchase price. But the car is probably cheaper than elsewhere on the planet. The Americans have suspended taxes and import duties for eight months, more than half a million cars have rolled into the country since the end of the war. Under Saddam car purchases were strictly regulated affair, and one needed a lot of money as well as good connections to get one.

The brother uses the car to moonlight as a taxi driver. A very difficult task because traffic in Baghdad is a vision from hell. Too many cars and the American roadblocks are everywhere. Nevertheless, it brings in an additional $150 per month. All together, it's $250, and there are two other breadwinners in the family. One as a policeman ($120) and his wife as a secretary at the newspaper ($100).

Together the family has more than enough to live, particularly since the Americans have maintaned Saddam's old system of national food distribution. Flour, rice, oil, salt, sugar, tea and basic foodstuffs are always available.

The awakened Iraqi himself ran a furniture store before his deep sleep. His wife and his adult son ran it in his absence. The business is booming especially since there are no taxes to pay. Aboce all office furniture is in high demand because new enterprises are being started everywhere. The family debates whether or not to start a new store, because moderate income loans to start a business are available from the military occupation authority.

All in all there remains enough money to buy a computer. For the children. Iraqis have always attached importance to the education and training of the children, and computer science seems to be the occupation of the future. "Internet" reads the new magic word, and those who don't have it want it, and of course under Saddam it was perfectly inconceivable. In Baghdad Internet cafes are shooting out of the soil like mushrooms. Even in small distant towns one can find them. The Iraqis learn fast, and though the telephones are mute (the switchboard isn't perfectly repaired yet) many have an e-mail address.

Of all the dreams the awakened Iraqi had in previous times, only one remains unfulfilled - the ability to travel abroad. With his new freedom and with enough dollars in his pocket, he hopes that now even this could suddenly be possible. Here the relatives must unfortunately dissapoint him. The military occupation authority isn't giving out passports, but instead one receives a piece of paper, in English, which no customs official in any other country in the world would easily accept. In this regard Iraq is exactly what it was under Saddam - a large prison. However it is a prison of barely limited possibilities, for those that know how to use it. It is a prison of in a state of conceivable disrepair, in which at any moment a brick could fall from the ceiling killing someone, but not the inmate. He has vanished and he won't be coming back.

--- end ---

"(1) If having no passport qualifies one as living in a prison, then more than 70% of all people on earth are prisoners indeed."

I just translated what was in the original article, which was conveniently left out.

And the Iraqis aren't allowed to have passports, at least right now, which means that if they want to visit that relative in Germany they called on the cell phone, they can't.

"(2) I make the bold assumption that carrying a piece of paper issued by US authorities in Iraq gives a traveller more credibility than a passport issued by, for instance, Albania, which indeed is a country somewhere in the lower right end of Europe."

Not quite. Try getting into the US or any other country from abroad with a piece of paper and see how likely it is you'll get past customs.


"Oh, I forgot - according to Michael Moore almost no American has a passport. Now I understand why many American and European intellectuals of the likes of Susan Sontag and Noam Chomsky label Bush's United States "a police state". Isn't there a story on IndyMedia that Ashcroft's minions took them away from the American citizens after 9/11, too?"

So does this mean that the German Newspaper hasn't "woken up?"

The point is that the original "translation" was incomplete.

I didn't WRITE the thing, I translated it, and I think I did so a lot more acurately. I left nothing out.

I think the general tone of the orignal article was quite positive, but find it a bit odd that the first translation removed the parts that weren't as positive.

But maybe that's just me.

Someone let me know that I got the second-to-last sentence wrong.

It should read:

"It is a prison of in a state of conceivable disrepair, in which at any moment a brick could fall from the ceiling killing someone, but not the jailer. He has vanished and he won't be coming back."

Mike:

I don't quite understand your reasoning.

"The translation leaves out quite a bit, especially the first few paragraphs which mention problems Iraqis face, and the last paragraph which compares Iraq to a prison."

First of all: when we present articles in the "Medienkritik" blog, we usually leave out "quite a bit". We concentrate on what's important (in our opinion - we don't know yours in advance, so please excuse us). This in the interest of readability.

The "first few paragraphs which mention problems Iraqis face" are repeated in zillions of articles in CNN, NYT, LA Times... and lots of German newspapers. Actually, it's just one paragraph that summarily mentions problems, not the "first few paragraphs". The author of the Morgenpost article quite obviously wanted to concentrate on the good things happening in Iraq. That's the main message of the complete article.

"...the last paragraph which compares Iraq to a prison" (was left out). That's true - I left out this paragraph of the Morgenpost article. It did not add much of importance, anyway. This paragraph says (basically): with all the good things happening in Iraq, you can't travel out of the country. So it's a prison, but "it is a prison of barely limited possibilities, for those that know how to use it. It is a prison of in a state of conceivable disrepair, in which at any moment a brick could fall from the ceiling killing someone, but not the jailer. He has vanished and he won't be coming back." (your translation). So where's the problem? Does this paragraph justify your remark, "The translation leaves out quite a bit ...and the last paragraph which compares Iraq to a prison"? I find your description "...compares Iraq to a prison" inappropriate, looking at the wording of the complete paragraph.

"It also adds a few paragraphs at the end. The last four paragraphs are not in the original story at the Berliner Morgenpost." This is ridiculous. The last "few paragraphs" are clearly marked as not belonging to the Morgenpost article. We even linked these paragraphs to the source, an Iraqi blog. We even mentioned that it's from a translator. Why you would hint at a deliberate attempt to mislead the reader - I don't get it.

And thanks a lot for translation of the complete article. Except - I don't understand why you did it, because we already presented it in an English version. There are some inaccuracies in your translation, but I don't blame you - we have some inaccuracies as well in our translation. It's not easy to translate a German article without at least some inaccuracies. But in both cases the translation in essence capture what's in the original German article. You could have saved a lot of time...

My point was that you took out some of the stuff that did seem negative that was in the article. I agree that the article itself presented a positive view. I was just a little surprised by some of the edits that you made. IMHO it would’ve been better if you had translated the entire thing.

Oh, and the reason I did it wasn't to waste time. The reason I did it was so people who can't read German were made aware of the ommissions.

As I've tried to point out earlier, the huge number of imports resulting from a free market in automobiles combined with a stagnant state monopoly and price controls in gasoline imnport, production, and retailing have cause the much noticed "gas shortage" existing throughout Iraq.

However, the CPA doesn't seem to recognize this.

This is not about leaving things out or not. The possibility of having a passport and being able to travel (regardless whether you do it, what matters is that you can do it) enjoys a special reputation in Germany (remember the cold war restrictions). So what this writer does is mentioning it in an attempt to prove to his German audience that Iraqis have got some consumerism but no real freedom.

Yet from a country whose leaders had exerted their utmost to deny Iraqi national sovereignity throughout the recent months it is plainly ridiculous to whine that Iraqi freedom is work in progress.


Anyone who claims to 'just as delighted as you' about the fact that Saddam is not in power , and 'equally concerned about freedon' is intellectually disgusting, and should not be permitted to continue the debate about the war until that point is dealt with.
It is undeniable proof that they are solely driven by fashionable anti-Americanism

Hello again,

yeah that's a real fair deal - every day a dead US-Soldier and a dozen dead iraqi civilians in exchange for the cahnce to get a "gleaming" OPEL ASTRA station wagon, a real awesome car indeed.
by the way: respect for your "Propaganda"-translation Mr. Göbels...

Tiger Force:

"yeah that's a real fair deal - every day a dead US-Soldier and a dozen dead iraqi civilians in exchange for the cahnce to get a "gleaming" OPEL ASTRA station wagon,"

How many Germans die on the Autobahn every day for the same privledge....to drive a "gleaming" Autobahnkreuzer?

How many Israelies died last year while just trying to enjoy a coffee at their favorite bistro?

How many Americans, Tommies or Ivans died to liberate the concentration camps in Europe, eventhough in the case of Americans, Europe was 3,000 miles from their homes?

Your present freedom is a gift from the countless civilians and soldiers that have died in the past 60 years, defending freedom.

Every day, people must take risks in order to enjoy their freedoms. So what's the point?

Have a nice day.

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