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TERENCE SMITH: John Daniszewski, it’s a pleasure to have you on the broadcast again.
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: Thank you, Terry.
TERENCE SMITH: Tell me the situation in Baghdad today, as we speak. Is there fighting still going on?
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: No. There’s not any fighting going on. I’m hearing just an occasional single gunshot, isolated gunshot. I’m not sure if those represent warning shots for people approaching marine checkpoints or something like that. It’s very sporadic. So it’s been a rather quiet day in the city compared to what we had the last few days.
There has been again, just a widespread looting, a very slow, relaxed, methodical looting of government buildings and even embassies now. And that’s sort of the main activity on the street among the looters and other people are frightened and staying inside their homes, trying to protect their homes and their property.
TERENCE SMITH: So there’s no, there’s no police authority, nothing to control this looting?
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: No, there’s a terrible vacuum of authority except for the, on this side of the river, the U.S. Marines. They’re protecting certain installations, certain ministries, protecting the old United Nations compound now. But as one marine officer told me today, there aren’t enough marines in Iraq to stop all these looters.
TERENCE SMITH: We’ve seen descriptions today of Baghdad as being in a state of anarchy. Does that word fit?
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: Yes, I think so. If you look at anarchy as meaning absence of law, that’s exactly the situation here, people are having to take the law in their own hands to some extent. I saw people had put up barricades on their streets to keep looters out, and many stores have posted their own private guards in front of them to protect them. I talked to one old man, a shopkeeper, who saw the looters were about to loot a bank on his street and he very bravely went out with no guns or weapons and just stood up to them and said “Leave this place alone”, and they did.
TERENCE SMITH: John, we’re seeing many pictures here in the United States of jubilant crowds, welcoming Americans, giving the thumbs-up signal to Pres. Bush, that sort of thing. Is that the universal and typical reaction?
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: It is a reaction, but I don’t think by any means it’s the universal reaction. Some people clearly are very happy to have the U.S. here, they’re very happy to be done with the regime of Saddam Hussein. There are people still, though, who resent the United States as a power, who view the United States as an enemy to Islam, or as a colonizer. So there is sort of an undercurrent of opposition to the U.S. being here that is not reflected in those pictures.
TERENCE SMITH: In fact, in your article today in the Los Angeles Times you quote a 31-year-old businessman, Iraqi, saying that if the Americans stay on too long there’ll be a guerrilla war against them. Is that a sentiment that you hear and take seriously?
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: Yes, I think so. I think it’s pretty clear that Iraqis if nothing else have a pretty strong sense of nationalism and a sense that they don’t want to tolerate a foreign occupation or a foreign presence, rather, any longer than they absolutely have to. And they have this idea about their history that they stood up to the British when they tried to colonize them and they were an impossible country to colonize.
Some people here view the United States more as a colonizer than as a liberator. Not all, as I said, there are some people who are quite happy at having the United States here to put things right again and even if they stayed for a few years. But there are definitely people who want it to last as little as possible and get it over with as quickly as possible.
TERENCE SMITH: Okay, John Daniszewski, thank you so much, we really enjoyed talking to you and hope to do so again.
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: Okay, thank you, Terry. Good night.
TERENCE SMITH: Good night.