Slate has a correspondent there. It sounds like emotions are running high and feelings are mixed, but we clearly haven’t reached the promised “welcoming the liberators with open arms” stage quite yet.
The mood on the streets remains somber and sullen. Stores are mostly closed, and those that are open have run out of duct tape, gasoline, and aluminum foil (which is wrapped around computers to shield them from e-bombs). People seem sad, resigned, sometimes resistant, mostly fearful. There is universal opposition to the war: George W. Bush’s name is spit with venom. Yesterday, a soldier saw me on the street and shouted, “George Bush, I fucked your mother. We will win this war because you are here. You are a human shield. We are all human shields and the world is with us.” Still, Iraq’s celebrated hospitality remains, even in wartime. I have been greeted with kisses and hugs as often as I have with people pointing fingers at me and yelling pow-pow.
And then there’s this:
By deciding to pursue their enemy into the city center, the Americans appeared to have enraged many of the Iraqi civilians who live there, including those who said they were predisposed to support the American effort.
One of those, Mustafa Mohammed Ali, a medical assistant at the Saddam Hospital, said he had spent much of the day hauling dead and wounded civilians out of buildings that had been bombed by the Americans. Mr. Ali that said he had no love for the Iraqi president but that the American’s failure to discriminate between enemy fighters and Iraqi civilians had turned him decisively against the American invasion.
“I saw how the Americans bombed our civilians with my own eyes,” Mr. Mustafa said, and he held up a bloodied sleeve to show how he had dragged them into the ambulances.
“You want to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime?” Mr. Mustafa asked. “Go to Baghdad. What are you doing here? What are you doing in our cities?”
Afterthought: we took a lot of lessons from 9/11, but it occurs to me that there’s one we might have overlooked when you attack a nation, people tend to rally around their leader, even if they hate him.