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Friday, December 29, 2006

The View from Iraq

River, over at Baghdad Burning, has posted again. She runs a blog out of Iraq, and I've been reading it for years. The posts chronicle the war in Iraq and the deterioration of life for the people there since. (The posts are available in book form, too. And it's a good book, shortlisted for the Booker Prize.)

Lately, the posts have gotten few and far between. It's partly the lack of electricity, partly the lack of access to technology, but largely the lack of anything new to write - how many times can you write about the same violence and the same lack of progress?

She had a post today, writing about the upcoming execution of Saddam. She points out what many in Iraq (and around the world) believe - the trial was an exercise choreographed by Americans, for the benefit of political interests in America. If not, why change judges whenever one would let Saddam present his side? And, if not, why not hold the trial in a neutral third country, supervised by the Hague? Why NOT another Nuremberg? Why the rush to kill him before all the facts are known?

Ooops, maybe more even uncomfortable facts lurk....

But what struck me most in her most recent post was this - the utter lack of hope for the future, and the complete change in the attitude of a young, modern Iraqi towards America.
Here we come to the end of 2006 and I am sad. Not simply sad for the state of the country, but for the state of our humanity, as Iraqis. We've all lost some of the compassion and civility that I felt made us special four years ago. I take myself as an example. Nearly four years ago, I cringed every time I heard about the death of an American soldier. They were occupiers, but they were humans also and the knowledge that they were being killed in my country gave me sleepless nights. Never mind they crossed oceans to attack the country, I actually felt for them.

Had I not chronicled those feelings of agitation in this very blog, I wouldn't believe them now. Today, they simply represent numbers. 3000 Americans dead over nearly four years? Really? That's the number of dead Iraqis in less than a month. The Americans had families? Too bad. So do we. So do the corpses in the streets and the ones waiting for identification in the morgue.

Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he's wanted to marry for the last six years? I don't think so.

Just because Americans die in smaller numbers, it doesn't make them more significant, does it?
We've lost hearts and minds. Which means, simply, that we've lost. And that it's time to leave.


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