Last night on “The O’Reilly Factor,” host Bill O’Reilly slammed Muntader al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush, and said that if he had been there, he “would have physically taken the guy down.” Guest Juan Williams agreed, but he widened his condemnation to Iraqis in general, who he said were behaving like “ingrate[s]” for not appreciating what the United States has done for them:
WILLIAMS: But on a serious level, how many American lives have been sacrificed to the cause of liberating Iraq? How much money has been spent while they’re not spending their own profits from their oil? American money. So I just think it’s absolutely the act of an ingrate for them to behave in this way. Just unbelievable to me.
Last month, National Review’s Andy McCarthy was similarly frustrated by Iraqis’ failure to shower their occupiers with thanks and gratitude:
Thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions in taxpayer funds have been expended to provide Iraqis the opportunity to live freely. And this despite the facts that (a) the U.S. interest in Iraqi democracy remains tenuous…and (b) Americans were assured, when the nation-building enterprise commenced, that oil-rich Iraq would underwrite our sacrifices on its behalf. Yet, to be blunt, the Iraqis remain ingrates. That stubborn fact complicates everything.
Even President Bush is confused about Iraqis’ frustration, telling Bob Woodward, “I don’t understand that the Iraqis are not appreciative of what we’ve done for them.” Woodward explained, “He thinks we’ve done this magnificent thing for them. I think he still holds to that position.”
An Oxfam report from February 2008 put into startling focus what the U.S. invasion has really meant for Iraqis:
— More than four million Iraqis forced to flee either to another part of Iraq or abroad. — Four million Iraqis regularly cannot buy enough food. — 70 percent are without adequate water supplies, compared to 50 percent in 2003. — 28 percent of children are malnourished, compared to 19 percent before the 2003 invasion. — 92 percent of Iraqi children suffer learning problems, mostly due to the climate of fear.
The Brookings Institute’s Iraq index also notes that the national unemployment rate is somewhere between 25 and 40 percent. Fifty-six percent of Iraqis say things in Iraq are going “quite bad” or “very bad.” Sixty percent rate economic conditions as “poor” and 75 percent rate security conditions “poor.”
Yglesias has more.