September 23, 2007
by Reb Yudel
Patrick Graham reports from Iraq for the Canadian newsweekly Maclean's:
Arriving in Baghdad has always been a little weird. Under SaddamTrackBack
Hussein it was like going into an orderly morgue; when he ran off after
the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003 put an end to his Baathist party
regime, the city became a chaotic mess. I lived in Iraq for almost two
years, but after three years away I wasn’t quite ready for just how
deserted and worn down the place seemed in the early evening. It was as
if some kind of mildew was slowly rotting away at the edges of things,
breaking down the city into urban compost.
Since 2003, more than 3,775 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, while
nearly 7,500 Iraqi policemen and soldiers have died. For Iraq’s
civilian population, the carnage has been almost incalculable. Last
year alone, the UN estimated that 34,500 civilians were killed and more
than 36,000 wounded; other estimates are much higher. As the country’s
ethnic divisions widen, especially between Iraq’s Arab Shia and Arab
Sunni Muslims (the Kurds are the third major group), some two million
people have been internally displaced, with another two million fleeing
their homeland altogether. Entering Baghdad I could tell the Sunni
neighbourhoods, ghettos really, by the blasts in the walls and the
emptiness, courtesy of sectarian cleansing by the majority Shias. The
side streets of the Shia districts seemed to have a little more life to
One of the terrifying aspects of the war is the monumental failure of
analysis and action on the part of America’s political, military,
journalistic and even business elites.
That problem may be systemic—the result of a “fact-based” America
confronting a society it did not understand and simply making up an
alternate reality, guns ablaze.
So far, the Republicans have done an
impressive job at failing in Iraq. Soon it may be the Democrats’ turn
to fail, albeit in a different way. It’s a shame because Iraqi
political parties are perfectly capable of doing that on their own.
Indeed, they seem to be going out of their way to compete with the
Americans on that score.
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