Sunday, September 18, 2005

Who Needs Baghdad?

Atrios points out that the Bush Administration is turning to private donors to help with the reconstruction of Iraq. Before you dig out the checkbook, you might want to check out this post from Juan Cole.

If you still want to write a check to help rebuild an Iraqi neighborhood, that's fine with me, but if Professor Cole's friend in Baghdad is correct, you probably should make the check out to either that Zarqawi guy or Muqtada al-Sadr. They are apparently the people in control of Iraq's capital.

"The situation has deteriorated in Baghdad dramatically today. Five neighborhoods (hay) in Baghdad are controlled by insurgents, and they are Amiraya, Ghazilya, Shurta, Yarmouk and Doura. It is very bad. My guys there report that cars have come into these neighborhoods and blocked off the streets. Masked gunmen with AKs and other weapons are roaming these areas, announcing that people should stay home. One of my drivers in Amiraya reports that his neighborhood is shut down totally, and even those who need food or provisions are warned not to go out."

"...More and more of even the most patriotic intelligentsia are departing. The situation is dire, and those with escape valves are using them. [Some organizations are]sending more of [their] staff to Arbil and Sulamaniyah and out of Baghdad. Until about March this year, [some] thought that there was a chance of returning to Baghdad. It is remarkable how incapable this government is. Its only success is that it exists at all."

Yet, over in the Green Zone the illusion persists that Americans are dying for a noble cause and that the reconstruction of a democratic Iraq is moving forward propelled by American dollars.

"In the meantime, the embassy people act as if nothing in Baghdad is wrong (except that they cannot walk in the Green Zone without body armor and they have to take precautions against kidnapping). Recently, a group from State and the military parachuted in from Washington [with fatuous advice] . . . It is a fantasy world."

Well, the Bush Administration was bragging just last year that they were creating their own reality. Here it is.