The Americans are making a hash of rebuilding Iraq, but one of the not so bad things they have done is to give Iraqis the freedom to scribble. On the wall outside the Baathist ministry of health the other day, a graffiti artist had scrawled in perfect English, ‘We need a health ministry free of corruption.’
For years John Pilger – ‘one of the world’s most renowned investigative journalists’, it says on the back of his latest book – has been insisting that the West, not Saddam, is to blame for the crisis in Iraq’s public health; that 5,200 Iraqi children were dying every month; that Western depleted-uranium weapons were to blame for an epidemic of cancers; that sanctions crippled Iraq’s doctors. Funnily enough, Pilger’s journalism echoed what the Baathist regime wanted people to hear.
But very recently in Baghdad what some might call the Pilger