Salam Pax’s first column

Salam Pax’s first column
: Salam Pax’ first Guardian column is up and it’s great. Period. Great.

Like no one else has or can, he gives us a sense of what life is like on the Iraqi street.

It’s more than atmospherics. He has things to say — and they’re better thought out than they are sometimes on a rushed weblog.

He celebrates the explosion of media in Iraq:

Newspapers are coming out of our ears these days…. Most of these papers are just two or four pages of party propaganda, no license or hassle. Just go print. I am thinking of getting my own: “Pax News – all the rumours, all the time”….

I got five papers for 1,750 dinars, around $1.50, it felt like I was buying the famous bread of bab-al-agha: hot, crispy and cheap.

Take note of that media celebration in relation to the post directly below about American media sniping.

He doesn’t say a word about the success or failure of the American occupation, per se. That is, he doesn’t write it from the American perspective. He writes it from the Iraqi perspective, being more critical of (or at least questioning)of) his own countrymen than mine:

The Military presence has been increased in the streets and soldiers don’t look as calm as they did a week ago. Al-Jazeera and Arabiya show angry Iraqis who say things about the promises that America has not kept and the prosperity of which they see no sign. Iraqis are such an impatient lot. How could it be made clear to these people that if they don’t cool it and show some cooperation there is no way anyone will see this prosperity? I really don’t want to see this country getting caught in the occupier/occupied downward cycle. I know it won’t.

And that is precisely why Salam Pax is valuable — because he writes from the Iraqi perspective, because he cares about Iraq.