I won­der how long it’ll be before Dick and Rummy send their stormtroop­ers after me. After all, I’m guilty of moral con­fu­sion and appease­ment by post­ing things such as this.

We’ve got a reporter in Iraq telling us the sit­u­a­tion there is inhu­man; we’ve got another in D.C. telling us the Fed is refus­ing to do anythng about it until after November 8; we’ve got a US sol­dier totally dis­il­lu­sioned by the idiocy of the way Iraq has been han­dled so far.

The sit­u­a­tion in Baghdad has dete­ri­o­rated so sub­stan­tially that the author of an LA Times piece can’t even give his name — for fear of reprisals from peo­ple who not only didn’t exist in Baghdad before the US inva­sion, but peo­ple who couldn’t get a foothold there.

I’ve lived in my neigh­bor­hood for 25 years. My daugh­ters went to kinder­garten and ele­men­tary school here. I’m a Christian. My neigh­bors are mostly Sunni Arabs. We had always lived in har­mony. Before the U.S.-led inva­sion, we would visit for tea and a chat. On sum­mer after­noons, we would meet on the cor­ner to joke and talk politics.

It used to be a nice upper-​​middle-​​class neigh­bor­hood, bustling with com­merce and traf­fic. On the main street, ice cream par­lors, ham­burger stands and take-​​away restau­rants com­peted for space. We would rent videos and buy house­hold appliances.

This was life under “tyrant” Saddam Hussein? Huh. Well, here’s life now.

On a recent Sunday, I was buy­ing gro­ceries in my beloved Amariya neigh­bor­hood in west­ern Baghdad when I heard the sound of an AK-​​47 for about three sec­onds. It was close but not very close, so I con­tin­ued shopping.

As I took a right turn on Munadhama Street, I saw a man lying on the ground in a small pool of blood. He wasn’t dead.


I went on to another gro­cery store, stay­ing for about five min­utes while shop­ping for toma­toes, onions and other veg­eta­bles. During that time, the man man­aged to sit up and wave to pass­ing cars. No one stopped. Then, a white Volkswagen pulled up. A pas­sen­ger stepped out with a gun, walked steadily to the wounded man and shot him three times. The car took off down a side road and vanished.

No one did any­thing. No one lifted a fin­ger. The only reac­tion came from a woman in the gro­cery store. In a low voice, she said, “My God, bless his soul.”

This is in pretty stark con­trast to the bull­shit the White House has been push­ing about improved life in Iraq, isn’t it?

You’d think that the partei would come up with some­thing, any­thing, to defend itself, wouldn’t you?

Hey — how about a report from a congressionally-​​commissioned panel on the topic, such as the Iraq Study Group? The Washington Post tell us that when the group was formed in March, 2006, spokes­men at the time said it “may come for­ward with some interim reports.”

There haven’t been any.

But that’s okay, since the group gave a progress report on their activ­i­ties on September 19th. Here are some of the high­lights of their report, cour­tesy of Dana Milbank.

We’re not going to spec­u­late with you today about rec­om­men­da­tions,” [for­mer sec­re­tary of state James] Baker announced at the ses­sion, hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Can the war in Iraq be won?

We’re not going to make any assess­ments today about what we think the sta­tus of the sit­u­a­tion is in Iraq,” said [for­mer Democratic Indiana con­gress­man Lee] Hamilton.

Could they at least explain their def­i­n­i­tions of suc­cess and fail­ure in Iraq?

We’re not going to get into that today,” Baker replied.

So far, it seems that the Iraq Study Group has main­tained its pol­icy of releas­ing no progress reports; and they’ve made it clear they’re going to con­tinue their pol­icy of not say­ing any­thing until after midterm elections.

Apparently cit­i­zens being shot ran­domly in the streets of Baghdad and left to die are less impor­tant than a given legislator’s elec­tion campaign.

What is the price of America’s soul, I wonder?

Meanwhile our life’s blood is also draining.

The ultra-​​right war­mon­gers really hate hear­ing from peo­ple such as Army Reserve Captain A. Heather Coyne, because she is not the kind of war pro­tester they can argue with. She’s not a hippy paci­fist pinko com­mie bas­tard appeas­ing cow­ard; she’s not even guilty of the hubris of mourn­ing her dead son in pub­lic. No, she started out in Iraq con­vinced — as many sol­diers were — of the right­eous­ness of the US cause there.

It took two years for that cer­tainty to get beaten out of her by fuck­wits such as Rummy and Dick.

Coyne’s per­sonal saga in many ways tracks the broader American dis­il­lu­sion­ment in Iraq. When she got to Baghdad, she was a strong sup­porter of the inva­sion. “I bought into the vision of an alter­na­tive Middle East,” she said.

She was an enthu­si­as­tic sup­porter of the inva­sion back then. “Iraq wasn’t the prob­lem, it was the solu­tion. It had all the right things,” such as an edu­cated pop­u­la­tion and rich nat­ural resources that would enable it to bring demo­c­ra­tic change to the Middle East. And, she said, “I felt strongly about get­ting Saddam Hussein out.”

This sol­dier sol­diered on, despite a grow­ing sense that the US mil­i­tary was in dis­ar­ray inter­nally, hav­ing no sense how to han­dle the sit­u­a­tion in Iraq. Perhaps it was too com­plex. Perhaps there were one too many wolves wait­ing to prey on unde­fended sheep. Perhaps it was hubris.

But she kept her hopes through the sum­mer of 2003, until she trans­ferred to the Coalition Provisional Authority, the civil­ian occu­pa­tion office headed by L. Paul Bremer III. “It wasn’t until the fall of 2003 that I really began think­ing, ‘This is a dis­as­ter — we are never going to pull this together,’ ” she said. “It was ama­teur hour.”

Amateur hour went to hell in a hand­cart soon after.

For Coyne, the break­ing point came in the spring of 2004, when news of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-​​abuse scan­dal emerged. “I assumed I was going to stay with the Army in Iraq for three or four years,” she said. But after see­ing the tor­ture inflicted on Iraqi detainees by U.S. sol­diers at the prison on the west­ern fringe of Baghdad, she said to her­self, “I want to take off the uni­form. I’ll be in Iraq, but the Army is the wrong orga­ni­za­tion to do this.”

[B]y the time she left Baghdad in February, she was heart­bro­ken. “I’m ter­ri­bly anx­ious and depressed about it,” she said in a recent inter­view in Washington, where she con­tin­ues to work for the Institute of Peace.

What I find most strik­ing is that Coyne has said she’d like to do one more tour of duty. Despite the actions of Trickle-​​Down Stupidnomics, she still believes in the US, in the cause of democ­racy, in the value of indi­vid­ual liberty.

Unfortunately, with her bosses telling us we aren’t per­mit­ted to ques­tion, to make com­par­isons, to think, it seems abun­dantly clear that they don’t believe in the same things she does.


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