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June 07, 2008



Americans have no comprehensive of the daily violence that so much of the world suffers. We have no comprehension of modern weapons and modern warfare.

When was the last time the tanks rumbled through Cleveland? When was the last time supersonic aircraft hit Atlanta with missiles? When was the last time artillery barrages rubbled Denver? When was the last time streams of refugees fled from ethnic cleansing in San Diego?

We know nothing of modern war, nothing of political violence and death squads. Yet we are so quick to apply military force as a "solution" elsewhere in the world.

A few days ago I posted an observation about the effect on children growing up in a world where violence is "normal"--the sights and sounds, the screams of fear, grief, anger. It breaks my heart.

It angers my that my government has inflicted or inflamed or exacerbated so much misery. We are not the sole cause of it, but we are like an irritant and infection in the wound. It will never heal until we leave.

I cannot close this without again paying the highest tribute to all the Iraqi members of the Bureau. Hussein, I honor your courage and your commitment to the profession of journalism. May God in his mercy protect you all.

Chris Baker

I was comparing this post to one Leila wrote on June 3rd, 2007, titled "A drive through Baghdad" (link follows). In that post Leila posted about meeting Sheikh Fassal al Gaood, the ex-Governor of Anbar, at the Mansour Melia Hotel in Baghdad. The Sheik was killed 22 days later on June 25th, 2007, in a major bombing that took 6 members of the Anbar Salvation Council. So many Iraqi tribal, clerical, political and military leaders have died during the last year trying to bring Iraq even to the stage it's at now.

Leila also wrote in that post that one of the members of the Iraqi staff had come with her, but his mind was elsewhere as his cousin had been kidnapped the prior week and he had many boyhood memories of his cousin. Perhaps sometimes we in the US forget how much the people of Iraq have suffered to bring Iraq to the point that Leila can wonder about what is "normal".

Perhaps also the US military has become too much a reminder of the past for Iraqi people to contemplate the kind of occupation role US military commanders seem to have proposed in this "Status of Force agreement". The British for example are mostly confined to their bases in Basra but a recent news report said they supply artillery and air power to back up the Iraqi army operations around Basra, most likely at the request of the Iraqi army.

There don't seem to be a lot of Iraqi objections to the British carrying out that kind of role, nor to advising the Iraqi military operating around Basra, since it's clear the Iraqi army is acting as the sovereign power. Probably that's the only kind of limited military role that's going to be acceptable to the Iraqi government in this "Status of Force" agreement.

Link - Leila's post: "A drive through Baghdad" (June 3, 2007): http://washingtonbureau.typepad.com/baghdad/2007/06/a_drive_through.html

Michelle Wallner

I have not been paying much attention to Iraq lately - basically I think the economy, presidential race, and environment (not necessarily in that order) have been the hot topics on my mind and in the paper.

How can we forget about Iraq? We are spending more money than the taxpayers can afford on this war - in a time when the average American can little afford a full tank of gas. What is wrong with this country?

As I read your post, I am slapped in the face yet again that this war goes on. ONLY three people died in that car bomb....imagine. Yesterday, if I am not mistaken, The Bee ran an article about Iraq towards the back of the A section. We all need to follow what is going on in Iraq more closely, especially our media.

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Baghdad Observer is written by McClatchy journalists staffing the Baghdad bureau.

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