Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A day in the life of Baghdad, with decades to come 

I didn't have such a great day, really -- my husband left today for a three-day roadtrip and I hate it when he is out of town. Then I forgot about the road construction on my way to work and so had to backtrack and take a detour which made me late. Then at the presentation I went to this morning they didn't call a coffee break. Getting back to the office after lunch, I got a phone call asking why the heck I hadn't yet finished revising a web page (answer: I'm DOING IT NOW! I had to STOP doing it to answer the phone! Oh, well...) -- and then, of course, I couldn't get it finished before I had to leave for a co-worker's retirement party. Just one of those ho hum days.
Then tonight I read Riverbend's description of the daily grind in Baghdad these days, and I didn't feel so bad anymore at all --
The electrical situation differs from area to area. On some days, the electricity schedule is two hours of electricity, and then four hours of no electricity. On other days, it’s four hours of electricity to four or six hours of no electricity. The problem is that the last couple of weeks, we don’t have electricity in the mornings for some reason. . . . Detentions and assassinations, along with intermittent electricity, have also been contributing to sleepless nights. We’re hearing about raids in many areas in the Karkh half of Baghdad in particular. On the television the talk about ‘terrorists’ being arrested, but there are dozens of people being rounded up for no particular reason. Almost every Iraqi family can give the name of a friend or relative who is in one of the many American prisons for no particular reason. They aren’t allowed to see lawyers or have visitors and stories of torture have become commonplace. Both Sunni and Shia clerics who are in opposition to the occupation are particularly prone to attacks by “Liwa il Theeb” or the special Iraqi forces Wolf Brigade. They are often tortured during interrogation and some of them are found dead. There were also several explosions and road blocks today. It took the cousin an hour to get to work . . . he has to navigate between closed streets, check points, and those delightful concrete barriers rising up everywhere . . . The least pleasant situation is to be caught in mid-day traffic, on a crowded road, in the heat- waiting for the next bomb to go off. What people find particularly frustrating is the fact that while Baghdad seems to be falling apart in so many ways with roads broken and pitted, buildings blasted and burnt out and residential areas often swimming in sewage, the Green Zone is flourishing. The walls surrounding restricted areas housing Americans and Puppets have gotten higher- as if vying with the tallest of date palms for height. The concrete reinforcements and road blocks designed to slow and impede traffic are now a part of everyday scenery- the road, the trees, the shops, the earth, the sky… and the ugly concrete slabs sometimes wound insidiously with barbed wire.

Riverbend continues to describe what is now happening in the Green Zone and what Iraqis think about it:
A friend who recently got involved working with an Iraqi subcontractor . . . inside of the Green Zone explained that [the Green Zone] is a city in itself. He came back awed, and more than a little bit upset. He talked of designs and plans being made for everything from the future US Embassy and the housing complex that will surround it, to restaurants, shops, fitness centers, gasoline stations, constant electricity and water- a virtual country inside of a country with its own rules, regulations and government . . . welcome to the Republic of the Green Zone . . . if you could see the bases they are planning to build- if you could see what already has been built- you’d know that [the Americans] are going to be here for quite a while. The Green Zone is a source of consternation and aggravation for the typical Iraqi. It makes us anxious because it symbolises the heart of the occupation and if fortifications and barricades are any indicator- the occupation is going to be here for a long time. It is a provocation because no matter how anyone tries to explain or justify it, it is like a slap in the face. It tells us that while we are citizens in our own country, our comings and goings are restricted because portions of the country no longer belong to its people. They belong to the people living in the Green Republic.

Now just consider the implications of this description.
Ever since the Downing Street Memos were leaked, people around the progressive blogosphere have been asking why the Bush administration wanted so badly to go to war in Iraq that they "fixed" the intelligence and the facts to promote the war.
Well, I think I may have figured it out, and no wonder there is no exit strategy.
They're not leaving. They never intended to leave.
Even the original Iraq War resolution quoted by Digby in the above link says as much in its final Whereas paragraph: "Whereas it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region . . . " And maybe this is what Condi was referring to this weekend when she said that the Bush administration had told everyone long ago that America had made a "generational commitment" in Iraq.
I think the Bush administration wants the American military to stay in Iraq for decades, like they have stayed in Germany for the last 60 years, in permanent, fortified military bases in Iraq and in the region. Secure in these bases, with their air superiority and weapons superiority and easy access to America's own weapons of mass destruction, the American military could make damned sure that no anti-American government could ever again take root anywhere in the Middle East, so that never again would such a government threaten the stability of US oil supplies, bully Israel, or destabilize the region.
It won't work, of course -- none of the Bush administration schemes work because they are ideological rather than realistic, poorly planned, and incompetently executed. The bases will, in themselves, destabilize the region, just as resentment of the US bases in Saudi Arabia was the motivation for 9/11. A permanent American military presence in the Persian Gulf would bankrupt the US, undermine any local government which cooperated with the US, and ensure that America and all things American would continue to be hated and despised by millions of people throughout half the world. Not to mention how questionable it is that China and Russia would be willing to put up with such a nearby threat either. But this won't stop the Bush administration from trying.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Email me!