If there is one country in which the exposure of these sordid deeds has had a salutary impact, it is the United States itself. There it is crystallising doubts about the wisdom of having invaded Iraq, which had been gathering all through April as the Sunni and Shia uprisings gained strength. By May 1, 753 US soldiers had been killed in Iraq and 7-8 times the number injured. Two-thirds of the latter seriously. In all, therefore, over three thousand have been killed or disabled. And 151 of the 753 had been killed in April alone.
But among American intellectuals, this is a lesser cause for anguish. A more pressing case is that the 'occupation' is stripping Americans of their illusions about themselves. The first to be threatened is the belief—perhaps the most deeply cherished of all—that America is the land of the free, and that when it intervenes anywhere militarily, it does so in the cause of freedom. In the wind-up to the Iraq war, Americans—three-quarters of whom had initially been against military, or at any rate unilateral military action—had gradually reconciled themselves, swallowing whole hog the administration's propaganda that they were liberating Iraqis from Saddam Hussein's tyranny. A majority of Americans continued to cling to this belief even after it became clear there was substantial opposition to the US presence and that armed resistance was not dying down. The insurgents, they believed, were remnants of the old regime and criminals aided by foreign fighters.