One of my favorite blogs, and I hope one of yours is well, is
For those of you unfamiliar with it, it's a firsthand account of life in Iraq from the eyes of an extremely intelligent, eloquent, amazing young Iraqi woman.
From her most recent post:
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.
The price of building materials has gone up unbelievably, in spite of the fact that major reconstruction has not yet begun. I assumed it was because so much of the concrete and other building materials was going to reinforce the restricted areas. A friend who recently got involved working with an Iraqi subcontractor who takes projects inside of the Green Zone explained that it was more than that. The Green Zone, he told us, 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. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Republic of the Green Zone, also known as the Green Republic.
So we are now Suburbanizing ourselves in Iraq?
The same way the privileged in America move far away from the realities of their big cities, so goes Iraq.
If we put up big fences and ignore and shield ourselves away from the chaos we have caused, it will somehow make it go away. Out of sight, out of mind. Big shiny neon signs on restaurants and shops to distract us from the fact that outside the fences lies a neverending war and incessant instability that we have created.
I live in Cleveland, Ohio.
The "mistake on the lake."
Cleveland is the poorest city in America. As I drive through my beautiful, rotting city, I pass by the "bad" neighborhoods.
East Cleveland, the "Al-Anbar province" of Ohio.
Collinwood, the "Fallujah" of Cleveland.
As I drive through these places, I see the faces...most of the time varying shades of brown...the faces of the forgotten, the neglected.
All of them fixated on me. The foreigner. The outsider.
Why am I here? A white boy with a nice car in the hood means only one thing. I'm there for my own, selfish reasons. Drugs. The "oil" of Cleveland.
But I'm not. I'm just passing through.
Even if I wanted to help them out...if I wanted to give them information on college loans and grants and all the many options that are available to them to help pull them fold the shitty hand that life dealt them...it would do no good.
A lack of credibility. A lack of trust.
And most of them would lack the motivation to become part of a system that has shit on them and their kind for so long.
And in bringing this long-reaching metaphor to a close let me say this...
No matter how noble are intentions are in Iraq, we will fail. The people of Iraq see the humvees pass by, back into their safe, shiny Green Republic, and know we are only their for our own, selfish reasons. We will never earn their trust, no matter how hard we try.
And in the end, all that will remain is
"The mistake on the Tigris."