Good Reads

ginmar: Market day

Another awesome post from ginmar, serving in Iraq. This time, reflections on the concept of wealth, and some hopeful news:

There’s a noticeable difference in the police, in the Iraqi National Guard, in the people on the street. People are noticeably more effusive now; waving enthusiastically, blowing kisses. The biggest difference is in the police and the Iraqi National Guard … the ING is doing things I wouldn’t have imagined being possible, after the past four months. I saw them abandon their posts, and I could understand it, because they’re still poorly-armed, and they don’t have body armor. Some of them are still unarmed. But it sure makes a difference when it’s their own country they’re fighting for, and it shows. Before, the Mahdi Army would attack police stations and the police would run after token resistance. Now they’re fighting back and standing their ground.

There is plenty of dreary truth to temper this optimism — notably, crushing poverty — which ginmar has seen before in Russia, and the fact that the enemy targets civilians. That latter dark cloud seems to indicate a silver lining:

More and more, it’s civilians that the Sadrs and the Zarcawis are aiming at, and civilians don’t have body armor or helmets. Every soldier who dies here is accompanied in death by civilians who were deliberately targeted by either religious fanatics or cold-blooded opportunists who aren’t even Iraqi. And now the Iraqis are taking matters into their own hands.

But where’s the heavy-duty reconstruction? The roads, the bridges, the electricity, the jobs and ultimately the economic stability that helps a newly democratic government survive? She cites Abraham Lincoln in her conclusion, which makes me wonder if Iraq will be more like post-war Georgia and Alabama than post-war Germany and Japan. (Lincoln wanted to spend a great deal on reconstruction, to “bind the nation together” again, but this ambition died with his assassination.)

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