There are enough tears shed by Iraqi eyes, you have to wonder how it keeps coming. It is vitally important that injustices and suffering be exposed in full public view; it’s cowardly and selfish of us to run away from bad news. Also vital is that the government gets called out on the right occasion, such as the shameful media handling of the protests. Yes, we know Ba’athists revelled in anti-government protests, but that did not delegitimise them. The concerns were genuine. Of course the opposition – much of which is responsible for the failures being protested about – also took pleasure in making Maliki look like the bad guy. Well, just because Maliki is in the hot seat, doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about the rest of you. On a slightly related note, we can do without the reverence afforded by journalists to Maliki and other figures in authority. Good manners is part of the culture, which is great, but in the case of politicians one would hope we become less like the Americans (who show similar reverence to their President) and more like the British. An Iraqi Jeremy Paxman grilling the PM would not only be a mechanism of accountability, but also remind everyone that officials are there to serve, not to be served, and are due no more respect than the common (wo)man. No sycophancy in Iraqi politics please.
The flip-side of exposing negativity where someone is trying to hide it, is exposing positivity where someone is trying to hide it. And you can be sure, there is at least as much force dedicated to making Iraq look as grim as possible as there is trying to make Iraq look like a bed of roses. In particular, certain media outlets and opposition groups have been doing this since 2003, juxtaposing images of calm Saddam-era Iraq with tumultuous Bush-Iran era Iraq. It is crucial that positive developments get the exposure they deserve, because positivity breeds positivity. In terms of attracting foreign investment, positive sentiment has an obvious role, especially when it filters through to things like perception indices and whatnot.
Then there is the issue of performance measure: without knowing the pluses, we may unfairly assume more corruption or incompetence of certain individuals or parties than actually exists, thus badly judging good performance and consequently opening the political doorway to those who have stayed out of the spotlight but have been creaming the milk quite nicely in the background.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is the mental well-being of people themselves. It is almost crass to say, from here in London, “cheer up guys, I know your friend got blown to pieces today, but look, there’s a road being resurfaced over there!” However, good news, even one such as new asphalt, gives people hope which helps them cope with the daily atrocities. It also encourages those outside Iraq because it says to them that a difference can be made.