August 24, 2003


American soldiers, without helmets or flak jackets, attended graduation ceremonies of the Diwaniya University Medical School. At ease with the Iraqi students and their parents, the American marines laughed, joked and posed in photographs. One by one, the students walked up to thank them, for Marine doctors had taught classes in surgery and gynecology and helped draw up the final exams.

“We like the Americans very much here,” said Zainab Khaledy, 22, who received her medical degree last Sunday. “We feel better than under the old regime. We have problems, like security, but everything is getting better.”

Such is the dual reality that is coming to define the American enterprise in Iraq, a country increasingly divided between those willing to put up with the American occupation and those determined to fight it. While the areas stretching west and north from Baghdad roil and burn, much of the rest of the country remains, most of the time, remarkably calm. . . .

Rather than fight the Americans, most Iraqis appear to be readily accepting the benefits of a wide-ranging reconstruction.

The two faces of the occupation give American policy makers something to take solace in and something to worry over. Four months into the occupation, the rebellion against American forces, though fierce, is still largely limited to the Arab Sunni Muslim population and its foreign supporters and confined to a relatively limited geographic area.

That last point is one that quite a few bloggers — including some blogging from Iraq — have been making, but that the mainstream media have tended to miss. Nice to see the Times getting it right.

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